WASHINGTON — The Palestine Liberation Organization’s envoy to the United States said on Monday that it was “too early” for the Trump team to facilitate trilateral meetings with Israel and the Palestinians.
“So far, the US administration is engaging the two sides separately, and all sides — not just the two sides, but the region,” Husam Zomlot said at an event hosted by the non-profit Arab Center.
Zomlot, who before coming to Washington was a senior political adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, conveyed optimism about US President Donald Trump’s peace push, but suggested the time was not yet ripe for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“Putting everybody together in the room, as it was discussed a few weeks ago, might be a bit too early,” he said.
Zomlot said Trump peace envoy Jason Greenblatt’s “listening tour” in the region in March, which included meetings with multiple stakeholders in the conflict, was a good step toward creating the conditions for peacemaking.
“This is a good approach: listening, learning what is happening exactly, absorbing,” he said. “We believe this might be the right approach.”
Trump has also already hosted both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas at the White House. He will meet again with both next week, when he embarks of his first foreign trip, with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank. He will also travel to Brussels and Sicily for NATO and G7 summits on the final leg of his trip.
Trump has conveyed abundant optimism about his capacity to bring the two parties to resolve a more than century-old dispute.
“It’s something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” he said to Abbas during a joint press conference. “We need two willing parties. We believe Israel is willing. We believe you’re willing. And if you are willing, we are going to make a deal.”
Zomlot told the crowd that Trump’s “affirmation” that he is “absolutely invested” in trying to resolve the conflict, and his invitation to Abbas to visit the White House, had “renewed Palestinian hopes.”
“We do have reasons to be optimistic and we do have reasons to be determined,” he said.
The Palestinian envoy also stressed the PA’s desire to emphasize and enhance its bilateral ties with the US under the Trump administration.
“Not everything is about the trilateral relationship, not everything is about Israel-Palestine,” he said. “We do have a strategic, bilateral relationship with the United States of America.”
The PA, he said, sees it as “crucial” to ensure “that relationship stands on its own.”