Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Trump travels to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian leader


U.S. President Donald Trump traveled in a high-security convoy to Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday to discuss Middle East peace with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump exchanged pleasantries with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife before boarding Air Force One.

Trump labelled Bethlehem, "a precious city" and said he intended "to do everything he could" to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The first of what appears to be a pointed avoidance by Melania of her husband occurred after the couple touched down in Tel Aviv Monday for President Trump's two-day visit to Israel.

"Once again we reassert to you our positions: accepting the two-state solution along the borders of 1967, a state of Palestine with a capital in East Jerusalem alongside Israel... and resolving longstanding issues based on worldwide law and agreements... in accordance with Arab peace initiative", Abbas said.

"Iran's leaders routinely call for Israel's destruction". I know you have heard it before, I'm telling you, that's what I do.

In Jerusalem, Trump focused on Iran, pledging he would never let Tehran acquire nuclear arms.

President Trump said on Tuesday that if peace can be reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it would spread throughout the Middle East.

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Fifty-nine people were injured in what British Prime Minister Theresa May called "a callous terrorist attack". People were pushing down the stairs. "It was just ... chaos", Sebastian Diaz, 19, of Newcastle, told AFP.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said that brokering an Arab-Israeli peace deal is a priority of his administration, describing it as the "toughest deal of all".

Mr Abbas is an unpopular leader, according to polls, and the Palestinian political landscape is split between his Fatah party and Hamas, the Islamist movement that is in control in the Gaza Strip and opposes negotiations with Israel.

The last talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, led by former US secretary of state John Kerry, broke down in April 2014 after around a year of largely fruitless discussion. "So you had another story wrong", said Trump.

At a news conference in Bethlehem's presidential palace, Abbas stressed the need for a two-state solution, noting: "I hope that history will mark Trump as the man who achieved peace".

"President Abbas has promised President Trump to be a partner to achieve that long waited for peace", Zumlot told i24NEWS.

The US president added that his meeting with Muslim leaders in the Riyadh summit was a historical event, and he called upon those leaders to join counterterrorism efforts, while also praising Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud's role in this regard.

The White House made another unfortunate typo in a live video feed of Trump's visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, by incorrectly spelling the museum "Vad Vanshem" - something that sounds closer to the name of a Dutch count.

"I had a meeting this morning with [Palestinian] President Abbas".

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