Ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian president wants to reach a peace agreement, working together with the US leader.“The president is ready to cooperate with Trump to reach a historic peace agreement,” Majdi al-Khalidi, Abbas’s diplomatic adviser, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.Trump will be visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on May 22 and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on May 23.Khalidi commented on a report in the Post citing a source who said Abbas had “passed the Rubicon” and is now ready to sign a peace deal.“The president has always wanted to undertake the necessary work to achieve and sign a deal,” Khalidi said. “That has always been the case.”
Khalidi said that Abbas believes that any deal should “be based on the two-state solution including the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”Abbas has long said he supports a two-state solution, creating a Palestinian state along 1967 lines.But Netanyahu has accused Abbas of evading an agreement by setting preconditions for negotiations.Since the collapse of the last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in May 2014, Abbas has frequently stated that Israel needs to freeze settlements and release prisoners. Over the past few weeks, however, the PA president has said that he is ready to meet Netanyahu, 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 said on Tuesday.Nabil Sha’ath, Abbas’s foreign policy adviser, declined to comment in an interview on Monday if a settlement freeze is necessary for the renewal of peace talks.“We will have to discuss that issue in future meetings with the Trump administration,” Sha’ath said.While Israel did not freeze settlements before the beginning of the 2014 talks, it did release a number of Palestinian prisoners.
Trump-Abbas meeting in Washington. (Reuters)