Trump meeting with Abbas in the West Bank

Henrietta Strickland
May 23, 2017

Where Trump's approach to the conflict has markedly differed from that of past presidents is in how he has staffed the team of top officials leading the peace effort, picking from a crop of individuals from the private sector with no prior government experience - just like himself.

Netanyahu was forced to order them to do so, even as Israeli protocol gurus were busily upgrading the welcome carpet, having seen the lavish and warm welcome Trump received in Riyadh. "They date back thousands of years", Trump said.

He told reporters he never mentioned Israel in the meeting.

Israeli Prime Minister has always been known as an opponent of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and major world powers. His optimism that "we will get it done" is not shared by Israeli or Palestinians leaders, let alone many in the "Beltway".

Earlier in the week, Trump had been visiting Saudi Arabia.

"Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?"

During his election campaign, Trump also advocated breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, alarming Palestinians.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi Monday called upon Washington to abandon its "policy of warmongering, meddling, Iranophobia and sales of unsafe and useless weapons to the main sponsors of terrorism".

The president has used the stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank to call for the end of such violence.

"They were all saying I did", the president added.

He has appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser on brokering an agreement, while Jason Greenblatt, formerly a lawyer in Trump's real estate group, has taken the day-to-day role of liaising with officials and leaders in the region on the nitty-gritty contours of any solution.

"I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region, because you have noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners", Netanyahu said. "Power should not pass on through inheritance, but through elections".

US President Donald Trump encouraged Israel to make good with its Arab neighbours through their shared enemy, Iran, while in Jerusalem on Monday during his first trip overseas as US president. He presented it nearly entirely from the standpoint of a gesture needed to give cover to the reactionary Sunni Arab oil sheikdoms so that they can openly align themselves with Israel.

"But it was a bad, a awful thing for the United States to enter that deal, and believe me, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, that I can tell you", Trump emphasised.

Their talks come with hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17, and activists were hoping to display banners in Bethlehem to drawn Trump's attention to it.

The two leaders with meet in the West Bank. He reiterated the Palestinians' demands, including establishing a capital in East Jerusalem, territory Israel claims as well, insisting that "our problem is not with the Jewish religion, it's with the occupation and settlements, and with Israel not recognizing the state of Palestine". It also extended the opening of the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan to 24 hours a day and allowed for the development of some industrial zones in the occupied territory.

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

"I would like to begin by offering my prayers to the people of Manchester", Trump said, at a new conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Images of President Trump touching the ancient stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem will send a strong signal to the Palestinians and their Muslim allies who have used United Nations forums to contest Jewish claims and heritage at the location of the biblical Temples.

But in the Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinians rallied against Trump and burned his picture and an effigy of him.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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