Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and US President Donald Trump listen to anthems during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.
(photo credit: THOMAS COEX / AFP)
Amid reports of his frustration with US President Donald Trump’s administration, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a high-level White House delegation on Thursday that he is appreciative of the American president’s efforts to reach a peace deal.
“We are highly appreciate of President Trump’s efforts… [Trump] has repeated since the beginning that he will work to achieve a historic peace deal,” Abbas said, according the official PA news site Wafa.
Abbas met with senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and deputy national security advisor Dina Powell on Thursday in the Mukata, the PA headquarters in Ramallah.
Abbas added that “we know the that the issues are difficult and complicated, but nothing is impossible in the face of well-placed efforts.”
In stark contrast to his remarks to the Trump team, the PA president expressed frustration about the Trump administration’s communications with him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting with the left-wing Meretz party in Ramallah last Sunday.
“I have met with Trump’s emissaries to the Middle East about 20 times since the start of his tenure,” Abbas said, according to a statement disseminated by Meretz.
“Each time, they have emphasized their commitment and allegiance to the two-state solution and to the cessation of building in the settlements. I have urged them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they have refrained from doing so. I am not sure what this means with regard to the continuation of the talks or with regard to the results of the upcoming visit.”
In his meeting with Trump delegation, Abbas also said that “we affirm this delegation is working for the sake of peace and that we are working for the sake of reaching soon what President Trump has called a peace deal.”
For his part, Kushner made a few general remarks about Trump’s hope to achieve peace in the Middle East.
“[Trump] is very optimistic and hopes for a better future for all Palestinian people and all Israeli people,” Kushner said as seen in a video posted on Abbas’s official Youtube page.
Kushner added that “hopefully they [Israelis and Palestinians] can work and live together for many years and have much better lives.”
Kushner, along with Powell and Greenblatt, has been touring the Middle East this week. The delegation has met with Saudi, Jordanian, and Egyptian leaders in a wider effort to reignite the peace process.
Notably, the reports about Abbas and the White House delegation’s meeting attributed no comment to the Kushner or any other American official about the two-state solution or settlements.
Over the past two weeks, the Palestinian leadership has called on the Trump administration to back the two-state solution and ask Israel to stop building settlements.
“If the administration cannot take these positions, then there will be no peace process, no negotiations, and no American patronage,” Abbas confidant Ahmad Majdalani stated on Wednesday.
Some Palestinian officials have said the Palestinians will turn to international bodies anew, if the Trump administration does not back two-states and ask Israel to stop building settlements.