In First Reaction to Trump Meet, Netanyahu Says Abbas Lied, but Hopes Peace Is Possible

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 3, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 3, 2017.Credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his first reaction to the meeting between U.S. President Trump and Palestinian President Abbas during his meeting with the Romanian prime minister on Thursday in Jerusalem, saying "I look forward to discussing with President Trump the best ways to advance peace. This is something we fervently share with the president.

"I heard President Abbas yesterday say that the Palestinians teach their children peace. Unfortunately, that's not true. They name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists. But I hope that it’s possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace. This is something Israel is always ready for. I’m always ready for genuine peace."

<< Trump-Abbas meet: Watch the full press conference and read the entire transcript | Analysis: The more things change the more they stay the same | How Palestinian media reacted to the meeting >>

Trump meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas in the White House on May 3, 2017Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP

Trump hosted Abbas in the White House on Wednesday, and promised to do "whatever is necessary" to help reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Trump complimented Abbas for denouncing terrorism, praised his role in the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and said he wanted to support Abbas "in being the Palestinian leader who signed the final peace agreement" with Israel.

Upon greeting Abbas at the entrance to the White House, Trump said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been "going on for a long time," and that he hoped "something terrific" could be reached between the two sides. When the two leaders delivered a joint statement in front of the cameras, Trump recalled how Abbas signed the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn 24 years ago, "an agreement which laid the foundations for peace."

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Trump then added that an agreement cannot be imposed on the two sides by any foreign country, including the United States, and would have to be negotiated directly between them. The United States under his leadership, however, would "do whatever is necessary" and act as a "mediator, arbitrator and facilitator" to help the two sides in their negotiations.

Trump praised Abbas for opposing violence and terrorism, and said that he was "very impressed" to learn about the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. "I applaud them," he said, "they get unbelievably well together. They work together beautifully." He then called on Abbas to act against incitement and hatred, saying that "hopefully there won't be such hatred for very long."

<< Watch the full press conference or read the entire transcript >>

White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said at his daily press briefing Wednesday that at their meeting, Trump and Abbas discussed ways to advance the peace process and steps to strengthen the Palestinian economy.

Spicer added that Trump raised with Abbas the issue of payments to families of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, and asked the Palestinian leader to resolve it. 

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