United States President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to work to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians as he hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.
In their first direct meeting, Trump pressed Palestinian leaders to “speak in a unified voice against incitement” to violence against Israelis but he stopped short of explicitly recommitting his administration to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict.
“We will get this done,” Trump told Abbas during a joint appearance at the White House, saying he was prepared to act a mediator, facilitator or arbitrator between the two sides.
Abbas quickly reasserted the goal of a Palestinian state as vital to any rejuvenated peace process, reiterating that it must have its capital in Jerusalem with borders based on pre-1967 lines Trump faced deep skepticism at home and abroad over his chances for a breakthrough with Abbas, not least because the new US administration has yet to articulate a cohesive strategy for restarting the moribund peace process.
Abbas’ White House talks follow a mid-February visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who moved quickly to reset ties after a frequently combative relationship with the Republican president’s predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama.
Trump sparked international criticism at the time when he appeared to back away from support for a two-state solution, saying he would leave it up to the parties themselves to decide.
The goal of a Palestinian state living peacefully beside Israel has been the position of successive US administrations and the international community.
“I’ve always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is between the Israelis and the Palestinian,” Trump said on Wednesday. “Let’s see if we can prove them wrong.” But he offered no new policy prescriptions.