Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday expressed willingness to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington under the auspices of US President Donald Trump.
In an interview published by the Japanese news site Asahi Shimbun, Abbas said, “I am ready to meet the prime minister of Israel anytime in Washington under the patronage of President Trump.”
The PA president also hinted in written responses to questions from the paper that he would demand a settlement freeze as a precondition to peace talks.
“The question… before talking about any peace process, is to create the right environment for peace to come. This will be impossible as far as Israel’s colonial-settlement enterprises continues,” Abbas said.
Netanyahu has for several months publicly called for Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel, without preconditions.
The White House announced Wednesday that Trump will meet with Abbas on May 3 for talks on efforts to breathe life into the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“They will use the visit to reaffirm the commitment of both the United States and Palestinian leadership to pursuing and ultimately concluding a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.
Trump spoke to Abbas for the first time over the phone in March and invited him to the White House. Netanyahu met with Trump during a Washington visit in February.
Abbas told US special peace envoy Jason Greenblatt that he believed a “historic” peace deal with Israel was possible with Trump in office.
Greenblatt told Arab foreign ministers in late March that Trump was committed to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians that would “reverberate” throughout the Middle East and the world.
Greenblatt has made two trips to the region since Trump assumed the presidency in January in an effort to jumpstart the long-dormant peace negotiations.