Donald Trump arrives for talks with Palestinian leader in Bethlehem
- Author: Leroy Wright May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 0:05
President Donald Trump told Israelis and Palestinians Tuesday that he knows they are eager to reach a peace agreement with each other, and that he is committed to helping them "make a deal".
President Trump sees himself as a great dealmaker, with the personality to cut through the difficulties that have defeated lesser people. "The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation", the Palestinian leader asserted. "It's part of the West Bank", part of lands that Israel annexed in the Six-Day War in 1967.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been occupied by Israel for 50 years.
Welcoming the U.S. president, Netanyahu noted "the forceful" speech delivered by Trump the previous day in Saudi Arabia, when he "called on all nations to drive out terrorists and extremists".
Trump has said he wants to broker a deal that has proven elusive for the past two decades.
What is the mood in the territories?
Before dinner at Netanyahu's residence on Monday, Trump avoided delving into details.
Clashes broke out near a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah involving several hundred stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, leaving at least one wounded.
The traditional U.S. position has been that Jerusalem's status must be negotiated between the two sides.
The Palestinian prisoners' affairs committee called for a "day of rage" on Monday for "the voice of the prisoners to be heard by the president".
He also urged Israel to comply with "just and human demands" of hundreds of Palestinian hunger strikers now forgoing food for the 37th day in Israeli prisons.
So far, Netanyahu has continued to defy Mr. Trump's appeal to hold back.
"Today I call upon all people, Jews, Christians and Muslims, every tribe, every creed, to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred and give all children dignity and hope", Mr. Trump said.
In return, Mr Netanyahu extolled the U.S. president's leadership.
"It seems President Trump is bringing a new atmosphere of friendship and understanding that the common enemy is radical Shiite Islam, which is Iran".
Yet, as Al Jazeera reporter Hoda Abdel-Hamid noted in disappointment, Trump "didn't speak of [the Palestinian] right to self-determination". He is due to depart for Rome later Tuesday.