President Donald Trump offered a warm welcome to Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), on Wednesday at a joint White House appearance prior to their closed-door discussions. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dennis Ross said Israelis and Palestinians were as pessimistic today about a deal as they had been in the past 30 years.
"We should all support this effort and do our best to seize this opportunity", he said. We believe Israel is willing, we believe you (Palestine) is willing, and if you both are willing, we are going to make a deal.
However, Trump did not mention his support for a two-state solution, a longstanding US stance on the issue.
WASHINGTON DC: Walking in the footsteps of many of his predecessors who delved into Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking - but ultimately failed - US President Donald Trump launched Wednesday his own "process which hopefully will lead to peace".
During the 2016 campaign, Trump espoused strong pro-Israel views, including a pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
"There can be no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violate, and violence, and hate", the president said.
It was part of the vigorous dose of optimism on display as Trump and Abbas showered each other with praise.
Trump expressed his desire to have Palestinians and Israelis draw on the Oslo Accords that Abbas signed onto as the Palestinian negotiator in 1993 and said he hoped the Palestinian leader would soon sign "the final and most important peace agreement".
Still, Trump, the self-proclaimed master dealmaker, thinks he can be the one to broker a deal.
Abbas implored Trump to understand the Palestinian perspective. He said "it's about time" for Israel to stop occupying Palestinian lands and to recognize a Palestinian state.
Trump sparked global criticism at the time when he appeared to back away from supporting a two-state solution.
Palestinian officials have seen their cause overshadowed by worry over global concerns such as the war in Syria and Islamic State group jihadists, and want Trump's White House to bring it back to the forefront.
The status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"But we need two willing parties".
The bill is named after Taylor Force, a USA citizen, West Point graduate and veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, who was killed by a 22-year-old Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel last year.
"Mr. President, it's about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land", Abbas said.
Following Trump, Abbas said in remarks translated from Arabic that the Palestinian leadership's "strategic option" is to pursue a two-state solution for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
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