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Everyone in the Dark over Trump’s Next Move Following Abbas Meeting | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office on May 3. (AFP)

Ramallah – No agreement or new position was reached during Wednesday’s meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump, said a Palestinian source.

It told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two sides simply agreed that peace should be reached.

“Neither we nor the Israelis know what Trump’s next step will be or what he wants exactly,” it added.

Abbas spoke to his American counterpart of the two-state solution, the commitment to peace and security and a better future for Palestinians and Israelis.

For his part, Trump stressed the need to achieve peace and the possibility that it could be reached.

The two officials agreed during their talks to maintain contacts in order to push the political process forward, stated the source.

The next step in talks has not been revealed by the Americans, Palestinians or Israelis, but Abbas simply expressed on Thursday his “deep” appreciation to Trump after the “constructive” talks that signaled a “promising beginning to reach peace during his administration.”

While the two officials only agreed on making peace, an early point of contention, related to the salaries of Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel, did arise. Abbas had demanded Trump, in one way or another, to drop this issue.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that Trump had expressed to the Palestinian president his concern over the Palestinian Authority’s payment of monthly wages to the inmates and that this issue needed to be resolved.

Abbas’ advisor Nabil Shaath rejected Washington’s “crazy” demand.

“The Palestinian inmates are victims of Israel’s control of the West Bank. It is ridiculous to demand a halt to the payment of salaries to the families of prisoners,” he stated.

“It is like asking Israel to stop paying its soldiers,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had launched a campaign during the past few weeks over the prisoner wages, saying that a halt in the payments will be practical evidence of the Palestinians’ desire to make peace. He also accused Abbas of inciting violence.

In Washington, Trump had briefly spoken of Palestinian “violence,” saying that permanent peace cannot be achieved until Palestinians start speaking in one voice against incitement to hate and violence.

Abbas responded by saying: “We raise our youth, children and grandchildren on the culture of peace.”

Netanyahu was quick to retaliate to the Palestinian leader’s statements, saying they were “not true.”

“They name their schools after mass murderers who have killed Israelis and they are paying wages to terrorists,” he added after talks with his Romanian counterpart Sorin Grindeanu in Jerusalem on Thursday.

He did express hope however that there is potential to create change and seek real peace.

“This is something Israel is always ready for,” he declared.

The militant group Hamas also harshly criticized Abbas, remarking that he is “delusional” in believing that achievements can be made through negotiating with the Israeli occupier.

It attributed his statements as being part of his policy of making concessions to the occupation, which will not restore the rights of the Palestinian people.

“The political behavior of the PA will deepen the Palestinian division and hinder the reconciliation,” said Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem.

“Resistance, in all its forms, is the strategic choice to regain rights and enable our people to determine their fate,” he added in a statement.