As US President Donald Trump began his Middle East tour in Saudi Arabia Saturday, the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat claimed that the president intends to present Israelis and Palestinians with a new peace initiative when he arrives in Jerusalem on Monday.
According to the London-based newspaper, which quoted unnamed Western sources, Trump will suggest direct negotiations between the sides for a limited time period of 6-12 months. The offer will not include a demand for a settlement construction freeze by Israel, the unconfirmed report said.
The source quoted by the paper said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had told Trump he would agree to the initiative.
Trump was said to believe a new approach to negotiations was needed, though his suggested tactic was not given.
Trump told the Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview Thursday that he “honestly, truly” thinks he can broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I think that there is a great opportunity to reach a deal,” the president said. “I am working very hard so that finally the Israelis and Palestinians will have peace, and I hope that this can happen quicker than anyone ever imagined.”
Trump said that he believes that there is a good chance for peace because it is the right time and he has the right people negotiating a deal.
“It is a great opportunity and it is good for everyone,” he said. “This deal is good for all. We have the right people working on it, [Ambassador] David Friedman and [Middle East envoy] Jason Greenblatt.”
A Palestinian minister said Thursday that the PA was taking seriously Trump’s efforts to help resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“The US president assured [Abbas] he will be able to find a settlement within one year,” Foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said.
AFP contributed to this report.