13 May, 2017
President Trump and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday vowed to work together to strike a peace deal with Israel that would bring stability to the Middle East. "I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit", Trump told Netanyahu, even though the Israeli leader said he doesn't see settlements as the "core of the problem".
Israel considers such payments a reward for terrorists, while the Palestinians consider them welfare payments for victims of Israeli occupation. "I believe that we are capable under your leadership and your stewardship - your courageous stewardship and your wisdom, as well as your great negotiating ability - that we can be partners, true partners, to you to bring about a historic peace treaty", Abbas said.
Speaking through a translator, Abbas thanked President Trump for the opportunity to visit the White House, urging him to support a two-state solution.
As Trump told reporters during an appearance with Abbas on Wednesday, "I'm committed to working with Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement, but any agreement can not be imposed by the United States or any other nation".
Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesaday said Trump is giving "serious consideration" to moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he pledged to do during the presidential campaign, but did not offer a timeline for that move.
The action would be seen as provocative because the city, claimed by both sides, had always been considered an issue for peace negotiations.
Asked what distinguishes Trump's plans from previous attempts, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said merely: "The man is different".
Israel, meanwhile, has protested attacks by the Palestinians and calls from Hamas, the militant group ruling the Gaza Strip, for the destruction of Israel.
Despite the decades of failed efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the region, Trump said his administration has a "very, very good chance" to get it done. "My family and I had the privilege of your hospitality during a Christmas visit just a few short years ago and we welcome you and look very much forward to our discussions".
During his statement Abbas classified Israel as an occupier and demanded a two-state solution along 1967 borders, which would put the Jewish state in an indefensible position against enemies.
The move was an unprecedented departure from an American policy shared by Democrat and Republican parties that has hinged on the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. "Let's see if we can prove them wrong, okay?" Only a two-state solution, Abbas said, would allow Palestinians to focus on fighting terrorism and enable Arab states to establish normal relations with Israel. "So Abbas here wants to be able to come home to the West Bank at least showing that he's got Trump's ear".
Trump told Abbas he wants his signature on the final peace agreement.