Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he is ready to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under the aegis of US President Donald Trump, without mentioning preconditions.“We affirmed to [Trump] that we are ready to cooperate with him and meet the Israeli prime minister under his auspices in order to make peace,” Abbas told a joint press conference with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Ramallah. He did not refer to preconditions to meet Netanyahu such as a settlement freeze or a prisoner release.
This is the second time in the past month that Abbas has said he is prepared to meet Netanyahu, without stating preconditions. He told the Japanese daily Ashai Shimbun in late April that he is “ready to meet the prime minister of Israel any time in Washington under the patronage of President Trump.”Nabil Sha’ath, Abbas’s foreign policy adviser, declined to comment on Tuesday on whether a construction freeze is necessary for the renewal of peace talks. “We will have to discuss that issue in future meetings with the Trump administration,” he said.Trump is slated to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on May 22 and 23 to meet with Netanyahu and Abbas.In the press conference with the German president, Abbas also said that he told Trump that he is committed to “working in complete partnership to fight terrorism and extremism in the region and world.”Trump said at a White House press conference with Abbas last Wednesday that “we must continue our partnership with the Palestinian security forces to counter and defeat terrorism.” The precise nature of security cooperation between the US and PA security forces regionally and internationally is largely unknown.Steinmeier, who was visiting Ramallah for the first time as president, said there is no solution other than the two-state paradigm.He also said that he is committed to helping the PA build government institutions and improve the standard of living, especially in Area C of the West Bank.Area C comprises approximately 60% of the West Bank, which, per the Oslo Accords, is under Israeli administrative and security control.Steinmeier is the second top German official to visit Israel and the PA territories in the last month. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel came to Jerusalem and Ramallah in late April as part of a regional tour.
Trump-Abbas meeting in Washington. (Reuters)