Israeli-Palestinan deal would be start of Middle East peace

Elias Hubbard
May 23, 2017

President Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed those behind the Manchester attack as "losers" and reiterated his call to drive out terrorists.

President Donald Trump's motorcade is entering biblical Bethlehem in the West Bank, passing through an opening in Israel's towering separation barrier.

Abbas visited Trump in Washington earlier this month, and they both attended the summit in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, where Trump kicked off his first trip overseas as United States president.

The current Israeli government led by Netanyahu is one of the most conservative in the country's history, and Abbas' hold on power is as tenuous as ever - and mistrust reigns between the two.

On the second leg of his Middle East trip after visiting Saudi Arabia, Trump also made a visit to the Western Wall in East Jerusalem.

While there was reportedly some disquiet in Israel over the U.S. administration's signing of arms deals with the Saudi monarchy that could total some $350 billion over the next decade, the speech and the turn by the Trump administration to an aggressively anti-Iranian policy went down well with the Zionist state, which, like Washington, sees Iran as the principal rival for regional hegemony.

Later Tuesday, Trump will visit the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, where he will deliver a speech. Speaking alongside Rivlin, Trump said, "There is growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posted by Iran".

It is a stark symbol for Palestinians of Israel's 50-year occupation of the West Bank, and in Bethlehem the wall has been covered with graffiti and street art.

The Palestinians "are committed to working with you to reach a historic peace deal between us and Israel", he said.

Before visiting the Western Wall, Trump toured the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

He also faces mounting difficulties at home, where he is struggling to contain a scandal after firing James Comey as FBI director two weeks ago, and a widening investigation into his administration's connections to Russian Federation. The family was separated by gender.

He became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site in the Israeli-annexed east of the city.

Trump placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall.

The visit raised questions about whether the USA would indicate the site is Israeli territory.

His speech at the Israel Museum touched on the Jewish connection to the Holy Land, earning applause from the audience, which included Sheldon Adelson, a US billionaire and active political supporter of both Netanyahu and Trump.

But he added that he had a "feeling that we're going to get there eventually". The U.S. has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over parts of the Old City seized in the 1967 war.

But what Trump heard at the Riyadh summit, which was attended by Abbas, was a total, unanimous, unambiguous endorsement of the Arab Peace Initiative.

Nimer said that if Trump would come to present a peace plan, it would have to wait for months before any results can be seen on the ground, without raising hopes about achieving a breakthrough soon. "But for the first time in many years - and, Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime - I see a real hope for change".

Yet Trump himself brought up a source of criticism.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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