US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said “we have a pretty good shot — maybe the best shot ever” at achieving peace in the entire Middle East.
Meting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Trump pledged in remarks to the press: “I certainly will devote everything within my heart and within my soul to get that deal made.”
“Our team is expert; your team is expert,” he told Abbas. “Israel is working very hard toward the same goal, and I must tell you, Saudi Arabia and many of the different nations are working also hard. So we’ll see if we can put it together. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.”
“From the time I’m a little boy, I’ve been hearing about peace in the Middle East. And for so many years I’ve been hearing about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And we’re at a very important juncture — there’s a small period of time — and we’re going to see what we can do,” Trump said. “There can be no promises, obviously. So many people have talked about it, and it’s never happened. But we’re fighting very hard.”
“If we can do it, it would be a great, great legacy for everybody,” the US leader added, before telling Abbas that “millions of people rooting for you.
Abbas in response said a peace agreement with Israel would be the “deal of the century,” and thanked Trump for the 20-plus meetings PA officials have held with US officials since he took office in January.
“This gives us the assurance and the confidence that we are on the verge of real peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Abbas said, speaking in Arabic.
Later, after their talks, the White House said Trump was “encouraged by the serious and constructive conversations among all parties” and that it would be “important throughout the talks for all parties to do everything possible to create an atmosphere conducive to making peace.” He said he was “personally committed to improving the economic opportunities available to the Palestinian people,” the White House statement said.
At their pre-meeting presser, Abbas also took the opportunity to send Jews and Muslims new year’s wishes.
“Allow me, Mr. President, to use this opportunity to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Jewish people on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah today, and to the Muslim people on the occasion of the new Islamic year tomorrow,” he said. “And this is a very sweet coincidence that we can celebrate the new year together within a 24-hour period, and if this is an indication to anything it means that we can coexist peacefully together.”
Trump, who has made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict one of the “highest priorities” of his presidency, failed to mention the decades-long dispute in his address to the UN a day earlier.
During his speech, Trump trashed the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission.”
Also on Tuesday, Trump met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told the Israeli leader that a regional peace deal would be a “fantastic achievement” and that “we are giving it an absolute go.”
In his own remarks to the General Assembly, Netanyahu said that Israel was ready for peace with Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. However, his commitment to the principle of “two states for two peoples,” expressed last year, was absent from his speech.
Netanyahu later hailed Trump’s remarks as the most “courageous speech” he had ever heard at the world body.