Friday, May 5, 2017

Palestinians concerned over Trump's Mideast peace vision

The first meeting of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with US President Donald Trump in the White House on Wednesday apparently focused on the upcoming US action to resume the peace process in the Middle East which has been stalled since April 2014, analysts said.

However, they expect that more pressure would be exerted on the Palestinian side to make concessions, in terms of the way Trump Administration may handle the peace negotiations.

In a joint news briefing with Abbas on Wednesday evening after their first meeting, Trump said he will "do whatever is necessary to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians."

He promised he will work as a "mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator" to broker a deal between Israel and Palestine, and expressed hope that "there won't be such hatred for very long."

Abbas, meanwhile, highlighted specific demands that the Palestinians will stick to in talks with Israel: a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and Israel returning to its 1967 borders and ending its 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Abbas said he believes it is possible to reach a historic peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"We are coming into a new opportunity, a new horizon that would enable us to bring about peace," he said at the news briefing.

Samir Awad, a political science professor at Beir Zeit University in the West Bank, said visiting the White House to present Palestinian views and express their readiness for peace "is a good thing."

However, "Trump didn't mention anything related to the deep debate and resolving the permanent status issues," said Awad.

"Trump clearly said he is able to make peace and resolve the conflict between the two sides, and he vowed to do his best to make them committed to watch their practices on the ground," the professor added.

According to Awad, the Palestinians are more concerned that President Trump will focus on running the conflict and not resolving it, as "Trump might go for the choice of a regional peace instead in coordination with influential Arab states, and this is what Israel is also looking for."

Palestinian officials had earlier announced that they may accept a US regional solution to the conflict with Israel, but it should be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demands a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and the return of refugees in exchange for full Arab normalization with Israel.

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