Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks in meeting with President Trump
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Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks in meeting with President Trump

‘The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation,’ Palestinian leader tells US president

US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas shake hands during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/MANDEL NGAN)
US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas shake hands during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/MANDEL NGAN)

The following is an unofficial English translation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks at a meeting with visiting US President Donald Trump in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Note: The remarks were delivered in Arabic, and the live Arabic translation was not entirely complete):

Your excellency Mr President and dear friend Donald Trump, it is my pleasure to welcome you here in Palestine. We receive you as a great guest of our people in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, from which the great message of love and tolerance has spread across the globe.

[I wish] to condemn the horrible terrorist attack that occurred in the British city of Manchester, leaving tens of casualties and innocent people. I do offer my warm condolences to the prime minister of Britain, the families of victims, and the British people.

Your excellency, meeting you in the White House early this month has given us, the Palestinian people, as well as all the nations across the region, so much hope and optimism of the possibility to make true a long-awaited dream and ambition of a lasting, justice-based peace. Our Palestinian people’s attainment of freedom and independence is the key to peace and stability in the world, so that the children of Palestine and Israel enjoy a safe, stable and prosperous future.

I would like to reiterate to your excellency Mr President our commitment to cooperate with you in order to make peace and forge a historic peace deal with the Israelis. And we would like to reassert our willingness to continue to work with you as partners in fighting terrorism in our region and the world.

In this respect I commend the importance of the holding of the Arab Islamic American summit and its findings and conclusions.

Your excellency Mr president, once again we reassert to you our positions of accepting the two state solution along the borders of 1967, the state of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem, living alongside the state of Israel in peace and security and good neighborliness, as well as resolving all the entire final status issues based on international law and internationally legitimate resolutions and respecting side agreements which sets the tone for the implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with what has been reaffirmed in the most recent Arab summit in Jordan.

Your excellency, as you saw yesterday during your historic visit to holy sites in occupied east Jerusalem and today in bethlehem, the conflict is not between religions. For respecting religions and prophets is an integral part of our religion. And we are keen to keep open the door to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors from all walks of life in order to boost confidence and create a genuine peace opportunity.

Our fundamental problem is with the occupation, and settlements, and the failure of israel to recognize the state of Palestine in the same way we recognized it, which undermines the realization of the two state solution

The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation.

i would like to draw the attention to the issue of our Palestinian prisoners, who have been on hunger strike for one month. Meters from here, in the vicinity of the Church of the Nativity and and everywhere all across Palestine, families and mothers of prisoners suffer from being denied visits to their children. Their demands are humane and just. I demand the Israeli government meet these humane, legitimate demands.

Achievement of peace, your excellency the president, will give us broad horizons and prospects to recover our economy and continue building our national institutions, based on rule of law and in the spirit of tolerance and coexistence and a culture of peace, nonviolence, no incitement, and building bridges instead of walls inside our lands.

Once again, I greet you with the warmest regards, your excellency the president and your accompanying delegation. I welcome you in Palestine, the holy land, wishing you success in your important tour, which will lead you to meeting his holiness the Pope Francis, whose dedicated, devoted efforts to peace we appreciate. Wishing you and the friendly American people a lifetime of heath and happiness.

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