'Very good' chance for Israel-Palestine peace

Brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has beguiled successive U.S. leaders, Trump told Abbas that together with the Israelis they could bag "the toughest deal to make".

He added, "We will be discussing details of what has proven to be a very hard situation between Israel and the Palestinians and let's see if we can find a solution".

Speaking after the US President finished his statement, Abbas thanked Trump for his invitation and looked forward with working with the White House.

"I believe that we are capable under your leadership and your stewardship to - your courageous stewardship and your wisdom, as well as your great negotiating ability, I believe, with the grace of God and with all of your effort - we believe that we can be partners, true partners, to you to bring about a historic peace treaty under your stewardship to bring about peace", he said.

The meeting with Abbas was another test of whether Trump, in office a little more than 100 days, is serious about pursuing what he has called the "ultimate deal" of Israeli-Palestinian peace that eluded his predecessors.

He stressed that it is time for Israel to end its 50-year-old occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Or, to paraphrase a famous quip by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on the eve of the Madrid Conference in 1991: The sea is the same sea, the Palestinians and Israelis are the same Palestinians and Israelis and the American brokers are the same American brokers. Abbas' visit is "a demonstration of that partnership, that very special partnership that we all need to make it all work".

Trump, in complete contrast, made clear throughout his brief remarks that he regards Abbas as a central, viable part of the solution.

Trump "is a results-oriented businessman who feels an intense responsibility to succeed for his investors, in this case the American people", McMaster said Tuesday at Independence Day celebrations hosted by Israel's embassy in Washington, agreeing with those who say Trump is "disruptive".

Abbas was under pressure at home to avoid making major concessions to Trump, especially with an ongoing hunger strike by several hundreds of Palestinian detainees held by Israel and led by prominent leader Marwan Barghouti.

Throughout his campaign, Trump had promised to move the USA embassy to Jerusalem and supported Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory - concepts that are both held in high regard by staunch pro-Israel groups. Israel also opposes Palestinian demands on refugees and stakes its claim on an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dennis Ross said Israelis and Palestinians were as pessimistic today about a deal as they had been in the past 30 years. Israel continues settlement construction in the West Bank. Now that he's met with both leaders, Trump said he is ready to "start a process" that could lead to a peace deal.

Even as Trump boldly predicted he would achieve peace where other presidents had failed, he stopped short of explicitly recommitting his administration to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, a long-standing foundation of USA policy.

One of Mr Trump's requests during the private meeting will likely be that Palestine stops paying the families of those who carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.

  • Leroy Wright