‘The time has come to make a deal,’ Trump tells Abbas – Arab-Israeli Conflict

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit:AFP PHOTO)

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM — A comprehensive agreement settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would advance peace across the region and the world, US President Donald Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call on Friday, according to a readout of the conversation released by the White House.

In his first call with the Palestinian leader, Trump said that “peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal,” underscoring that an agreement must be negotiated directly between the two parties.

“The United States will work closely with Palestinian and Israeli leadership to make progress toward that goal,” the White House said.

“The President noted that the United States cannot impose a solution on the Israelis and Palestinians, nor can one side impose an agreement on the other.”

Trump invited Abbas to visit Washington for consultations “very soon,” according to Abbas’ spokesman. A Palestinian source said the call lasted ten minutes.

Abbas called Jordan’s King Abdullah II shortly before his conversation with Trump, amid reports that the US president’s team is eyeing a regional approach to a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Palestinian and Trump administration officials have only met twice since the new US president assumed office, while two top Israeli officials including the Prime Minister Netanyahu have already made official visits.

In early February, PA General Intelligence Chief Majid Faraj and National Security Council officials met in the American capitol. A week later, Abbas and CIA Director Mike Pompeo met in Ramallah, a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington to hold talks with Trump.

Trump cast doubt on the US’s historic commitment to the two-state solution at a press conference on February 15th when Netanyahu visited Washington. “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like… I can live with either one,” Trump said.

Friday’s call comes a week before Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s advisor for international negotiations, plans to visit the Middle East. While Greenblatt is slated to visit Jerusalem to discuss settlement construction with Israeli officials, it remains unclear if he will meet with Palestinian officials in Ramallah as well.

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