Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told US President Donald Trump that he is ready to “begin negotiating immediately” on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a White House statement published on Wednesday said. Abbas and Trump met in Bethlehem on Tuesday as a part of the US president’s first foreign trip.
Abbas has recently stated on a number of occasions that he is prepared to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without mentioning preconditions. In the past month, Abbas told a Japanese newspaper, a press conference with German President Frank Walter Steinmeier, and a press conference in Moscow that he is ready to meet Netanyahu without stating preconditions, such as a settlement freeze. A senior Palestinian official declined to comment if Abbas will meet the prime minister without preconditions.The White House statement also said “President Trump and President Abbas reaffirmed their commitment to reach for a genuine and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.” Trump said multiple times during his visit that he believes peace is possible. On Tuesday, he told a jam-packed audience at the Israel Museum that both Israel and the Palestinians want to make peace. “I can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace," Trump said. "I can tell you also that he [Netanyahu] is reaching for peace. He wants peace.” Trump still has not talked about how he believes the two parties can achieve a peace agreement besides saying that both sides have to make concessions.
Trump arrives at the Presidential palace in Bethlehem (credit: REUTERS)