Trump confident he can broker Mid East peace


President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to do "whatever is necessary" to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians as he hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, but gave no sign of how he could revive long-stalled negotiations. Some Palestinians said they were disappointed by the omission.

Trump did not discuss any of those issues Wednesday.

Abbas demanded that Israel recognize a Palestinian state "just as the Palestinian people recognize the state of Israel", but he pointedly did not define Israel as a Jewish state - something Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been calling for since a landmark 2009 speech in which he conditionally endorsed Palestinian statehood.

Mr Trump is widely viewed in Israel and the wider Middle East as far more sympathetic to Israeli interests - including the contentious issue of settlement building - than his predecessor Barack Obama.

While Abbas will be challenged on the payments, Trump will also use their meeting to recommit the United States to helping the Palestinians improve their economic conditions, said the USA officials, who weren't authorized to publicly preview the talks and demanded anonymity.

While the president did say that peace would require Palestinian leaders to speak against incitement to violence and hate, for his part Abbas ticked-off the list of preconditions for peace that have not resonated in the last two decades.

The crucial question is what happens next and who in the USA team will lead the talks.

"It's about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land", Abbas said, referring to the Palestinian territories in the West Bank under Israeli control.

Abbas reasserted the overarching goal of a Palestinian state, saying it must have its capital in East Jerusalem with borders based on pre-1967 lines.

"Every president, when they come into office, thinks they can bring about an Israel-Palestinian deal", said James Gelvin, professor of modern Middle Eastern history at the University of California at Los Angeles. "There is no alternative".

This week, the Islamic militant group Hamas, arch-rival to Abbas's Fatah party, unveiled a new and more moderated political charter. However, when Hamas went through with the division, I said I would reconsider everything I do for the Gaza Strip.

Trump, while sounding hopeful about a peace deal, warned that "any agreement can not be imposed by the United States..."

The source of Trump's optimism was not immediately apparent.

Members of the Trump administration have signaled that they might move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would indicate the administration formally recognizes Jerusalem as the capital and reverse 70 years of global protocol as a means to remain neutral and achieve peace in the region, according to CNN. Abbas and other Arab leaders have said doing so would inflame already simmering tensions. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said the White House was giving "serious consideration" to the idea. And Trump does appear to be stalling on his stated intention to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which the Palestinians fervently oppose. "They name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists", he said at the opening of a meeting with the Romanian prime minister in Jerusalem.