Trump declares Palestine ready for peace talks

US President Donald Trump today said that he is committed "to do everything" to achieve Israel-Palestinian peace deal but made it clear that "peace can not take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded".

The closeness of Bethlehem - the physical proximity between Israel and the Palestinian territory - surprised most first-time visitors in the entourage.

The president spoke about signs he's sees that both sides are serious about wanting peace between their peoples. On Monday, he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

He pressed again for 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital "as well as resolving the entire final status issues based on global law and worldwide long-term resolutions, and respecting side agreements, which sets the tone for the implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with what has been reaffirmed in the most recent Arab Summit in Jordan".

The president avoided all of the thorny issues that have hindered peace efforts for decades. The biggest hurdle he has to cross is, who does the territory of Old Jerusalem belong to? Aides said the approach was purposeful. He's taken a tougher line on settlements, saying he doesn't believe they help the peace process, though he's stopped short of calling for a full construction freeze.

"Your excellency, as you have witnessed during your - as you saw yesterday during your historic visit of holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, and today in Bethlehem, the conflict is not between religions, for respecting religions and prophets is an integral part of our religion and faith", Abbas added.

Trump has repeatedly underscored US support for Israel during his first global trip as president.

Abbas was keen to "keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors".

"The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation", the Palestinian leader asserted. They were joined by Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as well as daughter Ivanka Trump and Kushner. Trump is the first sitting President to ever visit and pray at the Western Wall. In a speech before he flew to Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis, Trump offered a forceful defense of the Jewish state and pledged to protect the country from Iran.

It is the first time a sitting USA president has visited and prayed at the site.

Mashni pointed out there will be significant opposition to any land swap from hardliners in Palestine and Israel, making any long term agreement unlikely.

The White House did not answer the question.

"We reassert to you our positions of a two-state solution along the borders of 1967, a state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, living alongside of Israel", he said, referring to Israel's occupation of the West Bank following a war against three Arab armies. Trump himself never commented.

  • Leroy Wright