US President Donald Trump will work toward a “just and lasting peace” between Israel and the Palestinians, including the Palestinian aspiration of “self-determination” on his upcoming trip to the region, the White House said Friday.
US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters during the daily press briefing that Trump will meet again with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where the president will “express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians.”
McMaster also said that Trump’s meetings with Israeli leaders would look to cement stronger ties between the two allies.
Trump’s visit to Israel, which was officially announced last week, will take place from May 22 to 23 — just before Jerusalem Day — after stopping in Saudi Arabia and before he goes on to the Vatican. He will also travel to Brussels and Sicily for NATO and G7 summits on the final leg of his first foreign trip.
There has been speculation since Trump’s travel plans were announced that he would seek to facilitate a trilateral meeting with Netanyahu and Abbas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Sochi resort in Western Russia on Thursday, and said that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be “impossible” without the participation of Moscow in the peace process.
“It is impossible to solve the Palestinian issue without Russia’s meaningful participation in the peace process. That is what we have been emphasizing at all international meetings,” Abbas said in his meeting with Putin, according to the official Russian State news agency Tass.
Putin said Russia “will continue to give its full support to the resumption of direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.”
“The peaceful coexistence of the two states — Palestine and Israel — is an indispensable condition to ensure genuine security and stability in this region,” Putin said.
Abbas Foreign Affairs Adviser Nabil Shaath told The Times of Israel on Monday that while the Palestinians are embracing a new round of US-backed talks, they are still committed to working with the wider international community to attain their goal of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
Palestinians vote in municipal elections on Saturday, but only in the West Bank and not the Gaza Strip, illustrating the persistent inability of rival movements Fatah and Hamas to overcome deep divisions.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip — the two territories that would in theory form an independent Palestinian state — have not participated in an election together since 2006.
The terror group Hamas has run Gaza since seizing control in 2007, while President Mahmoud Abbas’s more moderate, Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has controlled the West Bank. A near civil war erupted between the two sides with Hamas’s violent Gaza coup a decade ago, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from the Strip in 2005.
Their failure to reconcile is seen as a major obstacle to any settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Saturday’s vote for some 300 municipal councils in the West Bank has been seen as yet another sign that reconciliation may be a long way off.
Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 but the international community refused to deal with any government in which it participated until it renounced terrorism and violence and recognized Israel and past peace agreements. Hamas has refused to do so, and remains committed to Israel’s destruction.
Abbas, whose term was meant to end in 2009 but who has remained in office with no election held, has grown unpopular among Palestinians, but he remains their leader in the eyes of the world.