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Abbas says he still 'can't understand' the US position on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Aug. 21, 2017 10:56 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2017 2:47 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- In a meeting with the left-wing Israeli Meretz party on Sunday in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly expressed his confusion regarding the US stance on Israel and Palestine, saying he “can’t understand” the Trump administration’s position on the conflict.

Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that during the meeting with the Meretz delegation, Abbas discussed previous meetings he had with US envoys, saying that while “he heard that they support a two-state solution to the conflict and a settlement construction freeze,” the officials have yet to state such demands publicly or to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States," Haaretz quoted Abbas as saying, citing “notes taken by some of the meeting's participants.”

"Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained. They said they would consider it but then they didn't get back to me,” Abbas reportedly said.

Abbas allegedly expressed doubts regarding an upcoming visit to the region by an American delegation, led by president Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner -- a former real-estate developer -- who Trump has tasked with bringing peace to the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel, and the wider Middle East region.

According to Haaretz, Abbas told the Meretz delegation that he intends to again ask Kushner “to have the White House express its commitment to a two-state solution and to demand a halt to settlement construction.”

Last week, Abbas’ foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath reportedly said he was “not optimistic” regarding the upcoming visit of the American delegation, saying “there are no great expectations about what will come out of this visit,” according to official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency.

According to Wafa, Shaath told Voice of Palestine radio that his lack of optimism came from the US president's refusal to give “any special attention or references to the two-state solution and the right of Palestinians in Jerusalem, or even the rejection of Israeli settlements.”

Shaath told the radio station that Trump’s foreign interests were instead focused on Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea.

Trump has repeatedly said peace between Israelis and Palestinians was something he could achieve as president. “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said in April. "There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- none whatsoever.”

While Trump has maintained on many occasions that, under his auspices, the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be solved, his administration has painted a rather unclear picture regarding Trump’s plans in the region, while a number of high-profile US officials, including Kushner, are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.

In February, Trump said that when it came to a solution for the decades-long conflict he could “live with either” a one- or two-state solution, in a significant departure from the US’ publicly held position in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict.

However, his elusiveness has not belied the fact that Trump and his administration have maintained their pro-Israel stance, despite stated efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which he said in the past was "not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

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