Trump, Abbas call for new start to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  Updated May 23, 2017 at 12:27 PM
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May 23 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump called for a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations after he met Tuesday in Bethlehem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas announced he is ready to be Trump's partner in securing peace in the Middle East through establishment of a Palestinian state on land captured by Israel in 1967. Standing with Trump after their talk in Abbas' presidential residence, Abbas said that Palestinians "are committed to working with you to reach a historic peace deal between us and Israel."

Abbas stressed that "the problem is not between us and Judaism. It is between us and occupation."

Trump arrived in Bethlehem on Tuesday after weekend meetings with Saudi Arabian leaders in Riyadh, and a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Bethlehem, Trump said he was "truly hopeful" for an end to the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and added that goodwill from his visit would turn into peace talks. The latest round of peace talks in 2014, involving then-President Barack Obama and John Kerry, his secretary of state, failed to reach a deal.

"Peace is a choice we must make each day, and the United States is here to help make that dream possible for young Jewish, Christians and Muslim children all across the region," Trump said.

Trump later visited the Western Wall and Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and spoke at the Israel Museum, where he focused on terrorism. First addressing the deaths of 22 people at a concert Monday in Manchester, England, he called for "a coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremism and violence, and providing our children a peaceful and hopeful future."

Trump also mentioned his talk with Abbas, telling the audience, "They [Palestinians] are ready to reach for peace."

After leaving Israel, Trump headed to Rome for a meeting with Pope Francis.

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