Speed Reads

Trump Travels Abroad

Trump, meeting with Palestinian leader, sounds bullish on Israeli-Palestinian peace deal

Well, crazier things have happened. On a visit to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, on Tuesday, President Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he is "committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians," adding: "And I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal. I look forward to working with these leaders for lasting peace." Such an agreement, long sought by American presidents, could "begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East," he said. Abbas welcomed Trump's "noble and possible mission," and said he is eager to "keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors," while reiterating the Palestinian demands, including a capital in East Jerusalem.

Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Trump was similarly upbeat. He said he saw a new willingness among Sunni Muslim leaders gathered in Saudi Arabia to view Iran as more of a threat than Israel. "There's a great feeling for peace throughout the world," Trump said. "I've seen such a different feeling toward Israel from countries that, as you know, were not feeling so well about Israel." Netanyahu welcomed Trump's push for peace. "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," he said. "It won't be simple. 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."

The Trump White House says it is trying new approaches to brokering a peace deal that has eluded numerous predecessors, and Trump has given the task to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a former Trump organization lawyer, Jason Greenblatt. Middle East experts note that the same old issues are preventing an agreement, including mistrust between Abbas and Netanyahu and their own citizens, territorial disputes, and the right of Palestinian return. During his visit to Bethlehem, Palestinian protesters were clashing with Israeli security forces.

After his trip to the West Bank, Trump has a brief stop planned at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum then a speech elsewhere in Jerusalem. He leaves for Rome later Tuesday for a meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday, before a NATO summit in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily.