WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM -- A comprehensive agreement settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would advance peace across the region and the world, US President Donald Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call on Friday, according to a readout of the conversation released by the White House.In his first call with the Palestinian leader, Trump said: “Peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal,” underscoring that an agreement must be negotiated directly between the two parties.“The United States will work closely with Palestinian and Israeli leadership to make progress toward that goal,” the White House said.“The president noted that the United States cannot impose a solution on the Israelis and Palestinians, nor can one side impose an agreement on the other.”Trump invited Abbas to visit Washington for consultations “very soon,” Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah told Wafa, the official PA news site.
A Palestinian source, who was present during the phone call, said the call lasted 10 minutes and was cordial.The source added that the topics of settlement construction and the American embassy were not discussed. According to Abu Rudeinah, Abbas stressed his firm belief “in peace as a strategic choice to establish a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.”Abbas called Jordan’s King Abdullah II shortly before and after his conversation with Trump, amid reports that the US president’s team is eyeing a regional approach to a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process.PA representatives and Trump administration officials have only met twice since the president assumed office, while two top Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have already made official visits.In early February, PA General Intelligence chief Majid Faraj and National Security Council officials met in the US capital. A week later, Abbas and CIA Director Mike Pompeo met in Ramallah, a day before Netanyahu arrived in Washington to hold talks with Trump.Trump cast doubt on the US’s longtime commitment to the two-state solution, speaking at a press conference on February 15 when Netanyahu visited Washington. “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like... I can live with either one,” Trump said.Friday’s call comes a week before Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s adviser for international negotiations, plans to visit the Middle East. Greenblatt is slated to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to the peace process.
Trump invites Palestinian leader Abbas to White House (credit: REUTERS)