Trump Tells Saudis: I Have Strong Desire to Reach Comprehensive, Just Israeli-Palestinian Deal

In White House meeting with defense minister and deputy crown prince, U.S. president tries to enlist Saudi Arabia's support for efforts to achieve regional solutions.

Trump and Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2017.
Trump and Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2017. Mark Wilson/Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump told the Saudi defense minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during a meeting at the White House, he has a "strong desire" to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the White House said in a statement Wednesday.  

Trump made the comments as his special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has continued to conduct talks in Israel and with officials from the Palestinian Authority in an effort to restart peace talks on the conflict.

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Prince Bin Salman is considered a highly influential figure in Saudi Arabia at this time. The fact that Trump raised the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his meeting with the prince is an indication of his wish to obtain backing from Saudi Arabia for efforts to advance the peace process and of his desire to have the Saudis involved in regional matters. The White House statement said that Trump expressed a desire to continue contacts with Saudi Arabia to enlist the kingdom's support for efforts to achieve solutions on regional issues.

Trump administration envoy Greenblatt had additional meetings. On Tuesday he met with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. Before leaving Israel, Trump's envoy is expected to meet on Thursday with Netanyahu again to discuss reaching agreement on limitations to West Bank Jewish settlement construction.

On Wednesday morning, Greenblatt met with President Reuven Rivlin and discussed efforts to revive the peace process. A statement released by the President's Residence said that Rivlin emphasized at the meeting that "confidence-building measures between Israelis and Palestinians were a critical first step in advance of any possible agreement."

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Rivlin and Greenblatt both spoke about how the security of Israel and its citizens was also a critical and fundamental requirement. Rivlin told Greenblatt the he is prepared to assist on any matter in which it is required to promote dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

In the course of the day on Wednesday, Greenblatt visited Palestinian forces' main training base in Jericho, which was established with American funding. He met with several senior Palestinian security officials and noted that the American assistance is designed to help the Palestinians fight terrorism and to provide security to both Palestinians and Israelis.

On Tuesday, Greenblatt made a rare visit to the Jilazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, where he met with the camp's residents. He also visited the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where he met with Palestinian university students from the West Bank.

On Wednesday, Greenblatt arrived in Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah II in Amman. Greenblatt told the Abdullah that reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would have a positive effect on the Middle East, and stressed that Jordan has an important role in restarting negotiations between the sides.

King Abdullah told Trump's envoy that the United States plays a key role in ending the diplomatic gridlock and resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis on the two-state solution, which he said was the only viable solution to the conflict. Achieving just and comprehensive peace, which will entail the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, would  bring security and stability to the region, the king said.