U.S. Rejects Reports That Trump Is Pulling Out of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts

In apparent reference to difficulties during Kushner-Abbas meet, State Department admits: 'some conversations more difficult than others'

A handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority's press office (PPO) on June 21, 2017, shows Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (R) US President's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner (L) in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
THAER GHANAIM/AFP

The U.S. State Department forcefully denies reports claiming that President Donald Trump was considering ending his efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. 

The White House had already denied the reports, which originated in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat. But on Tuesday, the State Department's spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, went a step further by calling them "just false." 

Speaking during a press briefing, Nauert said that she had spoken with people who accompanied Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and the president's special peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, on their recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. She emphasized that "we are not pulling out in any way, shape or form.

"The president has made Israeli-Palestinian peace one of his top priorities. You know that. We’ve talked about that," Nauert said. 

But she did add that the Trump administration is aware that achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians is an arduous task.

"We understand and recognize that this is not going to be a one-shot deal. It’s not going to be handled in one meeting or one trip. It is no surprise also that some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others. Some will be more challenging," Nauert said. 

This could be interpreted as a recognition of difficulties that arose  during Kushner's visit, specifically in his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The White House, however, stated on Monday that the meeting between Kushner and Abbas was "very positive," and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he was "not aware" of any tensions during the discussion between the two of them.