Abbas says he’s ready to meet Netanyahu as part of Trump peace push
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Abbas says he’s ready to meet Netanyahu as part of Trump peace push

PA president tells reporters he looks forward to US president visiting him in Bethlehem, possibly in two weeks' time

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier review the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah on May 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier review the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah on May 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he was ready to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of US President Donald Trump’s peace efforts, weeks before the US leader is expected to visit the region.

Trump is expected in Israel on May 22 as part of his first foreign trip and the Palestinian president said “we are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem” in the West Bank, with speculation it will occur on May 23.

“We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli prime minister under his auspices to build peace,” Abbas told reporters while meeting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Abbas also said he was fully committed to a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines that would allow Israel and Palestine to exist side by side in peace, security and friendship.

Steinmeier said much time has already been spent on efforts to set up a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

“In our view there is no other solution,” than the two-state solution, he said. “It’s high time to work on the requirements for it.”

Abbas met Trump in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks.

On Monday, senior Palestinian adviser Nabil Shaath praised Trump for Abbas’s warm reception at the White House and said any possible meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders would be discussed when the US president visits.

“What was discussed in Washington was getting ready to start the negotiations,” he told The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump (right) reaches to shake hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, May 3, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump (right) reaches to shake hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, May 3, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump announced last week that his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — the spiritual centers of Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.

At the time of the announcement, a senior Trump aide did not rule out the possibility of a presidential stop in the West Bank, but said that it was likely to be contingent on security and Abbas taking concrete steps toward peace.

Trump has been seeking ways to restart moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

As he hosted Abbas in Washington, Trump confidently predicted that a peace agreement was within grasp, brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has bedeviled successive US leaders.

Dov Lieber and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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