Donald Trump speaks of hopes for Middle East peace on Bethlehem visit

DonaAbdulaziz al Saud dancing with swords. Pic  AFP
DonaAbdulaziz al Saud dancing with swords. Pic AFP

24 May, 2017

Palestinians work on a poster depicting U.S. President Donald Trump in preparations for visit in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, May 22, 2017.

Speaking to a group of Israelis in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday, Trump said he is "personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement".

President Donald Trump in the major address of his visit to Israel called for a coalition of nations to fight against extremism and insisted that both Israel and the Palestinians are ready for peace.

After Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump heads to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was one of the first world leaders to visit the United States after President Trump's inauguration and today's visit is one more step the President has taken to reaffirm the bond of friendship between the United States and Israel.

Despite the president's claim, White House aides have tried to play down expectations for significant progress on the peace process during Trump's stop.

Trump called Jerusalem a "sacred city", but did not follow through on his campaign pledge to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the USA embassy to the city, which Trump called "the eternal capital of the Jewish people" during the campaign.

But Rubio said some definitions of "peace" aren't acceptable to Israel or the U.S.

President Donald Trump's flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv may make history as the first direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held peace talks for three years and Mr Trump acknowledges it would be "one of the toughest deals of all" to broker.

Husam Zumlot, a former adviser to Abbas who is now the Palestinian ambassador in Washington, said the contours of any deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians were well known to both sides.

"Palestinians are ready to reach for peace". But Trump may face questions from Israeli officials about revelations that he disclosed sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian officials and concerns over the new $110 billion arms deal he announced with the Saudis. The President also discussed the important work of defeating violent ideologies and welcomed the action and support of any nation that would help Israel and the United States in that effort.

Wearing a black skull cap, he became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, the most holy site at which Jews can pray.

But he added that he had a "feeling that we're going to get there eventually".

This "fixation" on Iran and its threats to regional peace and stability can not be a substitute for real efforts to solve the ongoing regional conflicts, beginning with the Palestinian problem and ending with the six-year-old bloody civil war in Syria.

But Trump's remarks notably omitted mention of the long-heralded, two-state solution, which has been a consistent policy supported by American governments for the past 30 years.

It is still early to figure out what to make of Donald Trump's visit to Israel, as the USA president is known to make extemporaneous statements that may not accurately reflect his policy positions.

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