Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is prepared to hold a trilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "I am ready to meet the prime minister of Israel any time in Washington under the patronage of President Trump," the Palestinian leader told the Japanese Asahi Shimbun daily.
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The White House announced Wednesday that Trump will be meeting Abbas in Washington on May 3. At his daily briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that in his meeting with the Palestinian president, the two leaders would discuss ways to restart the peace process in an effort to reach an agreement that would end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. A senior Palestinian delegation that includes senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Majid Faraj, the head of the Palestinian general intelligence service, will leave for Washington on Sunday to prepare for the Trump-Abbas summit.
"We are glad that now the U.S. administration listens about us from us, and not from third parties," Abbas told the Japanese daily in an interview published Wednesday evening. "We have called upon the U.S. administration to engage in making a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis and that we are willing to help and cooperate based on two states on 1967 lines."
A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the Palestinians' impression from meetings held up to now with senior Trump administration officials, including the U.S. president's special Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, was that the new administration has not yet developed a position or formula leading to renew negotiations based on principles that could advance a peace agreement. "The delegation will arrive in Washington in the hope that at the end of the meetings a position will take shape from which the parties can move forward," the official said.
The East Jerusalem Al-Quds daily reported on Wednesday that, ahead of Abbas' meeting with Trump, the American president's advisers have put together a document that Trump will present at his meeting with the Palestinian president. According to the report, the document includes a demand that the Palestinians agree to renew negotiations with Israel without precondition and without an Israeli commitment to freeze construction in West Bank settlements.
The report said the White House will demand that Abbas also intensify efforts to combat terrorism, carry out reforms in the Palestinian security services, stop making payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and to the families of terrorists and to stop the transfer of budgetary allocations to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
In exchange for Palestinian agreement on these matters, the report said, the Trump administration will not act to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Al-Quds report was not officially confirmed by any party and associates of Abbas went so far as to call it unreliable and baseless, presenting unrealistic conditions. "If such document exists, it will make the delegation's visit superfluous," the senior Palestinian official said.