Tillerson: Trump put 'pressure' on Netanyahu and Abbas to revive negotiations

Before Trump departed for his first foreign trip as president, H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, said the American leader would express support for Palestinian "self-determination".

In a joint appearance with Trump in Bethlehem, Abbas said the Palestinians wanted a peace agreement based on the two-state solution: a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem alongside Israel. The Trump Administration is said to be trying to put together a "common set of principles" from which everyone can negotiate. He added that in his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas it was clear that "the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace", and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "wants peace".

While the president reiterated his desire to broker a peace deal, his visit produced no announcement on steps toward renewing negotiations.

In contrast, Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the United States and a key Abbas ally, said he did not see Trump's comments as a USA policy shift.

Yet some Israeli officials are less certain of Trump. He even attempted, unsuccessfully, to undermine Obama's efforts by circumventing the White House and addressing his objections directly to Congress. The photo of his solemn visit to the Western Wall was splashed across the front pages of Israel's newspapers.

Thousands of Israeli settlers descended on Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday to mark Israel's capture of East Jerusalem 50 years ago. Israeli leaders were clearly happy that the U.S president had visited their county within the first few months of taking up office. "I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace", the United States president said. He says Israel already has some limited partnerships with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States in the field of intelligence, although officially they have no diplomatic relations.

Immediately after the speech, Isaac Herzog - head of the opposition from the Zionist Camp, the second-largest party in the Israeli Knesset - told Voice of Israel Radio that Trump's remarks represented a "total change in the psychology of the Middle East". Cohn stressed Friday that the president was simply being critical of the US trade imbalance with Germany. In a video that went viral on social media, Melania appeared to slap away her husband's hand as the couple got off of Air Force One at Ben-Gurion Airport.

"It was a visit of intent, of his intent to reach out and help us reach a final agreement".

In a country where symbolism is so important, President Donald Trump made a number of important gestures during his visit to the Holy Land this week, leaving Israelis elated and Palestinians disappointed. He pointedly sidestepped any mention of the thorny issues that have stymied all previous attempts at a peace deal, including the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlement construction and the Palestinians' demand for a sovereign nation.

"Our fundamental problem is with the occupation and settlements, and failure of Israel to recognise the state of Palestine in the same way we recognise it, which undermines the realisation of the two-state solution", Abbas said.

Ari Fuld, an Israeli participant in the anniversary celebrations, carrying a handgun, said it was a "miraculous day" for Jews.

  • Leroy Wright