Trump thinks he’ll ‘be successful’ on Mideast peace
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Trump thinks he’ll ‘be successful’ on Mideast peace

During a joint press conference with Jordan's king, president says he's 'working very, very hard' to strike coveted deal

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

President Donald Trump and Jordan's King Abdullah II speak during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and Jordan's King Abdullah II speak during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he believes his efforts to forge a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will triumph.

“I think we’ll be successful,” he said during a joint press conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan. “I hope to be successful — I can tell you that.”

Standing alongside the Jordanian leader in the White House Rose Garden, Trump vowed to work with him to attain the elusive peace deal and said he would confer with Abdullah over the best ways to strike a comprehensive accord.

“To advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Trump said, “I’m working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

“The king has been a really tireless advocate for a solution,” he added. “He’s going to help me with that — and help me at the highest level. We will be consulting with him very closely in the days ahead.”

While neither of the two men mentioned the two-state solution, Abdullah spoke of his endorsement of the Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, as the path toward reaching a final-status agreement.

Part of that framework included a two-state outcome where Israel would withdraw from the Palestinian-claimed territories and arrive at a “just” solution to the refugee issue in exchange for normalized ties with the entire Arab world.

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a news conference with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II speaks during a news conference with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Arab Peace Initiative, Abdullah said, “offers a historic reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as all member states in the Arab League. It is the most comprehensive framework for a lasting peace.

“It ensures statehood for the Palestinians, but also security, acceptance and normal ties for Israel with all Arab countries and, hopefully, all Islamic countries,” he added.

Abdullah seemed intent on expressing his warm feelings for the president’s attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian question, which he has referred to as “essentially the core conflict in the region.”

“The president’s early engagement” on trying to revitalize the peace process “has been a very encouraging sign for all of us,” Abdullah said. “And I think, sir, it was that initiative that allowed us at the Arab Summit last week to extend, through the Arab Peace Initiative, the message of peace to Israel, which hopefully we will all work together to help that come about.”

He also told Trump, “You will find a strong ally in Jordan supporting you on all your policies.”

Wednesday’s meeting came as the White House has begun its work to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, recently returned from his second trip to the region since Trump assumed the presidency in January.

President Donald Trump and Jordan's King Abdullah II shake hands during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and Jordan’s King Abdullah II shake hands during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

During those visits, he met with multiple stakeholders in the conflict, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Part of the goal of those meetings — the White House told The Times of Israel last week that it was not the main goal — was to reach an agreement that would limit Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank.

The Trump administration — which has held the position that settlements are not “an impediment to peace,” but at the same time do not “help to advance peace” — expressed approval of an Israeli decision last week to curtail settlement building to within existing settlement boundaries or, in most cases, adjacent to them.

“This is a very friendly administration and we need to be considerate of the president’s requests,” Netanyahu told the security cabinet in announcing the move.

The announcement came hours after the security cabinet approved the establishment of a new settlement in the West Bank for families evicted from the recently razed Amona outpost.

The new settlement will be Israel’s first in some 25 years. While Israel stopped establishing new settlements in the early 1990s — after the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed — some outposts constructed since have been given retroactive approval, and existing settlements have expanded their geographical parameters.

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