Palestinian Official: Contrary to Israeli Claim, Abbas and Trump Discussed All 'Core Issues'

Day after White House meeting, Palestinian delegation expresses cautious optimism

Jack Khoury
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President Donald Trump meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017.
President Donald Trump meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017.Credit: AP Photo / Evan Vucci
Jack Khoury

In contrast to assertions made by Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Donald Trump did discuss the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at their White House meeting, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz on Thursday.

The Palestinian delegation to Washington expressed cautious optimism about Wednesday's meeting between the two leaders. The senior said that the core issues of the conflict of borders, settlements and Jerusalem were all touched upon during the meeting, and not just the issue of salaries awarded by the Palestinian Authority to those who carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis, or the controversial content of Palestinian school textbooks that have been characterized as inciting.

"We made it clear to the Americans that there is no love between us and the Israelis, and that we are in a state of confrontation and conflict as a result of the occupation," the official told Haaretz.

"If the discussions focus on textbooks, incitement and payments," the official said, "then we will be in the same situation as we are today in another 20 years, or even worse. However, if we discuss the core issues such as borders, settlements and Jerusalem and all final status issues then the rest of the issues will be included as part of the solution, because all these things depend on one another."

"If Israel is trying to portray a situation in which Trump and his team only talked about salaries and textbooks, then that's a mistake. All the main issues were on the table," he said.

In an interview with Palestinian television Thursday, the Palestinian president said that Trump had a coherent political agenda, and that he was enthusiastic about it. According to the Palestinian president, he presented Trump with his position on a number of international issues and emphasized the Palestinian leadership's aspiration for a settlement based on the two-state solution.

Abbas said that the talks with Trump dealt with several issues related to the negotiations with Israel, including the question of how to get the talks started, and how to do so quickly. "We made it clear that we support the efforts of President Trump and I hope that we will reach a solution," Abbas said.

According to a Palestinian news agency the Palestinian delegation saw great importance in the White House meeting, both in terms of stabilizing Abbas's status as president and as the representative of the Palestinian people vis-à-vis the international community. The delegation added that they are looking forward to the administration's next step to renew the peace talks.

The White House confirmed Thursday night that President Trump would be travelling to Israel on the 22nd of May, and that the trip would include a trip to Bethlehem.

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