Donald Trump has met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank as the US president seeks to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“I am truly hopeful that America can help Israel and the Palestinians forge peace and bring new hope the region and its people,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Abbas on Tuesday.
“If Israelis and the Palestinians can make peace, it will begin a process of peace throughout the Middle East,” he said without elaborating on any plans to restart talks.
Abbas said Palestinians “are committed to working with [Trump] to reach a historic peace deal between us and Israel,” adding that the “main problem is with the occupation and settlements”.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Bethlehem, said Trump’s remarks regarding the link between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stability in the rest of the region was significant, adding, however, that many Palestinians will be disappointed by what Trump did not say.
“Trump didn’t speak of their right to self-determination. he didn’t speak of the two state solution … and they will probably be disappointed that Trump did not say what his plans were or his vision was,” Abdel-Hamid said.
The short visit in Bethlehem came a day after Trump met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as Palestinians held a general strike in support of hundreds of hunger-striking prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Meetings between Trump and Netanyahu concluded on Monday with Trump promising to help broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, but gave little indication of how he could revive negotiations that collapsed in 2014.
“It’s not easy. I have heard it is one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we are going to get there eventually. I hope,” Trump said after the meeting, without elaborating.
The last round of peace talks, led by then-President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, fell apart in 2014.
One point of contention is the fate of occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967.