“I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there's not peace between Israel and the Palestinians - none whatsoever,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview with Reuters.
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- Abbas is trying to curry favor with Trump by punishing Hamas, Palestinian sources say
Trump also brushed aside a question of whether he might use a possible trip to Israel to declare U.S. recognition of the entire city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a reversal of longstanding U.S. foreign policy likely to draw international condemnation.
"Ask me in a month on that," he said, without elaborating. Israeli officials said they do not believe Trump plans to make the move anytime time soon.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump confirmed his administration was in talks about possible visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel in the second half of May. He is due to make his first trip abroad as president for a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels and could add other stops.
A visit to Israel would reciprocate a White House visit in February by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to meet Trump next Wednesday in Washington.
Trump has set a more positive tone with Israel than his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, who often clashed with the right-wing Israeli leader, and has raised concerns among Palestinians that their leaders may not get equal treatment.
Trump has also asked Israel to put unspecified limits on its building of Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians want for a state, and has promised to seek a Middle East peace deal that eluded his predecessors. However, he has offered no new diplomatic prescriptions.
If Trump ties an Israel visit to next month's Brussels trip, it would be around the time Israelis are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, when Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.
Successive U.S. administrations as well as the international community have not recognized Israel's annexation of the eastern part of the city, and the future status of Jerusalem remains one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem, which contains sites sacred to the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths, as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state of their own.