Trump travels to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian leader

Also on Monday, Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, land that was seized from the Palestinians by the Israeli military during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Trump, on his first trip overseas since taking office in January, is seeking progress toward what he has called the "ultimate deal" - a peace pact between Israelis and Palestinians.

Abbas also spoke of Palestinian insistence that all "final status issues" be resolved "based on worldwide law" and United Nations resolutions, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative first offered more than a decade ago.

And while introducing Trump on Tuesday, Netanyahu took a dig at Abbas, who would have to be his partner in any peace deal.

"Making peace, however will not be easy, we all know that".

He however offered no specifics, with widespread scepticism over whether meaningful talks are possible for now.

Netanyahu has expressed tentative support for parts of the initiative, but there are many caveats on the Israeli side, including how to resolve the ever more complex refugee issue and whether Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights, strategic territory that Israel took from Syria in the 1967 war.

"I make this promise to you: my administration will always stand with Israel", Trump said to applause.

Wrapping up the second stop of his five country worldwide swing since becoming Commander in Chief, President Donald Trump is now on his way to Rome.

He travelled eight km (five miles) south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, to see Abbas.

"There are many things that can happen now that could never have happened before" as he delivered a public statement alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that followed a face-to-face meeting in Jerusalem.

Trump also visited Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial, on Tuesday. Before that he visited Saudi Arabia.

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One before departing from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 23, 2017.

Trump's convoy entered Bethlehem shortly before 10:00, arriving from the 300 Checkpoint and driving past Israel's illegal Separation Wall. Trump also avoided any mention of a future Palestinian state in his brief remarks with Abbas after their meeting in Bethlehem.

Peace talks have been stalled for years, most recently breaking down in 2014 following disagreements over Israeli settlement-building and a Palestinian move to reconcile with the Islamist group Hamas.

"So many young attractive innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace", the US President asserted. They would think that's a great name.

Trump added that dealmaking "is what I do". His visit to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where some believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, is also significant. "He wants peace", he said.

Palestinian news agency Ma'an estimates that more than 1,300 Palestinians are now on strike behind bars in Israeli prisons, while Israeli outlets have placed the number in the high hundreds.

  • Leroy Wright