WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump on Wednesday told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to stop incitement, crack down on terrorism, and “resolve” the PA’s policy of providing social welfare payments to the families of terrorists jailed for attacking or killing Israelis.
“President Trump emphasized the importance of making a clear commitment to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and to stopping incitement, and to continue strengthening efforts to combat terrorism,” the White House said in a readout of the two leaders’ first face-to-face meeting Wednesday.
“President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue,” the statement added.
Earlier in the day, during a joint statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Trump only subtly referenced Palestinian violence, which Israel considers a major obstacle to achieving a peace accord.
“There can be no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate,” Trump said, standing next to Abbas. “There is such hatred. But hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long,” he said.
Abbas, for his part, asserted “that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”
Earlier this week, three GOP senators urged the US president to push Abbas on the PA’s social welfare payments to the families of terrorists.
Wednesday’s press conference took place before the two had a working luncheon with a US and Palestinian delegation. Trump invited Abbas, 82, to the White House as part of his efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The White House said the two leaders” reaffirmed the commitment of both the United States and the Palestinian Authority to achieving a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
The US president “stressed that he is personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a comprehensive peace, and that any peace settlement can only be the product of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement said.
Like Trump’s earlier remarks, the readout indicated he is optimistic of his chances to broker the elusive accord, but did not explain what he thinks a successful deal would look like.
The White House said Trump and Abbas were seeking to improve conditions that could foster negotiations, without elaborating.
“The two leaders discussed the value of actions that can help create a climate conducive to tangible progress toward peace,” it said.
Trump and Abbas also discussed ways to enhance security cooperation to assist the Palestinians in countering terrorism, as well as stimulating the Palestinian economy.