Trump meets Abbas, predicts 'very good chance' of peace with Israel


President Donald Trump met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House Wednesday, and both leaders made remarks from the Roosevelt Room.

The source of Trump's optimism was not immediately apparent.

The US, Abbas and the Israelis "will be working so hard" to get a peace agreement that's "been a long time" coming, Trump vowed, turning to Abbas.

The White House also said Trump is still considering moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but nothing has been decided. They learned soon enough the complicated dynamics that have endured over a half-century of struggle.

Trump said he was committed to working with Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement but that any agreement could not be imposed by the United States.

Like previous U.S. leaders, Trump faces numerous obstacles in the long-shot bid.

Abbas called for a two-state solution, which would establish an independent Palestinian nation alongside Israel.

A two-state solution between Israel and Palestine would "give a great impetus to the Arab peace initiative", Abbas continued, and enable his country "to fight and deter terrorism, and fight the criminal ISIS group, ISIS that... has nothing to do with our noble religion".

The Palestinian Authority president also took the opportunity to highlight the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler colonial rule, mentioning the grave situation of Palestinian refugees and those imprisoned in Israeli prisons as "the suffering of my people". The deal would not just be about a peaceful, two-state solution, but also about solving the issue of refugees and prisoners "according to worldwide law".

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Optimism is not high in the region.

"Over the course of my lifetime, I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians", Trump said at the end of the press conference.

"Whenever there is a vacuum, the worst forces fill it", Ross said during a talk at the Washington Institute, a research center dedicated to Middle East policy.

"President Trump and President Abbas reaffirmed the commitment of both the United States and the Palestinian Authority to achieving a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians", the statement read. Trump was joined by his point man in the peace efforts, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, and Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

The US president promised to do "whatever is necessary" to facilitate an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis, who "must work together to reach an agreement that allows both peoples to live, worship and thrive and prosper in peace".

Trump did not discuss any of those issues Wednesday.

Israel had been rapidly expanding construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - something many see as a hinderance to peace.

"There's such hatred", Trump said. "It's been a long, long time and maybe we can end that journey and start a much better journey". "My family and I had the privilege of your hospitality during a Christmas visit just a few short years ago and we welcome you and look very much forward to our discussions".