US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Tuesday that the president would not be interested in the finer points of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but would instead be pushing for quick results in resolving it.
The president “does not have time to debate over doctrine,” US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said at a celebration in Washington to mark Israel’s 69th Independence Day, Reuters reported.
Trump was scheduled to sit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday in the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders.
“The president is not a super-patient man,” McMaster said. “Some people have described him as disruptive. They’re right. And this is good – good because we can no longer afford to invest in policies that do not advance the interests and values of the United States and our allies.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been moribund since US-sponsored negotiations collapsed in 2014.
Trump will press Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, according to US officials, one of several actions Washington believes could lead to resumed peace talks with Israel.
Other actions include a Palestinian end to anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement of violence, said officials familiar with planning for the meeting.
Meanwhile, US and Israeli officials are holding talks to arrange a Trump visit to Jerusalem by the end of the month.
Israeli officials have confirmed May 22-23 as tentative dates for the trip.
McMaster suggested that “arduous circumstances” — such as the Islamic State jihadi terror group and the regional threat from Iran — “may allow us to resolve what some have regarded as intractable problems, problems like disputes between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“President Trump has taken a typically unconventional and fresh approach to this problem,” he added.
The issue of stipends for families of Palestinians killed or jailed in the context of the conflict with Israel is a sensitive one. Israel considers such payments a reward for terrorists, but stopping them seems untenable to Abbas, especially at a time of broad Palestinian support for a mass hunger strike of prisoners held by Israel. American officials said such a request was raised in preparatory talks with Palestinian officials and three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.
Last week Trump said, “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.”