FRESH STEPS: Trump reiterates commitment to goal of Middle East peace –
Jerusalem: US President Donald Trump called on Israelis and Palestinians to make compromises for peace on Tuesday as he wrapped up a closely watched visit, but offered no specifics on how he would resolve the decades-old conflict.
In a speech towards the end of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump offered a forceful defence of the Jewish state and pledged to protect the country against common enemies, including Iran.
But he also touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, again vowing he was “personally committed” to helping the two sides reach a deal.
After weeks earlier flashing his trademark bravado by saying the “ultimate deal” could be easier than “people have thought,” he seemed to acknowledge the complexities that have bedevilled his predecessors.
“Making peace however will not be easy,” Trump told an audience of Israeli politicians and other dignitaries at the Israel Museum.
“We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions. But with determination, compromise and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.”
He, however, offered no specifics, with widespread scepticism over whether meaningful talks are possible for now.
In what may concern peace advocates, he did not specifically mention the two-state solution, long the focus of international efforts and US Middle East diplomacy.
The parts of the speech offering a robust defence of Israel drew loud applause, which seemed to energise Trump on the second leg of his first foreign trip since taking office.
After mentioning threats to Israel from Hizbullah, Hamas and Iran, he said, “not with Donald J Trump,” drawing enthusiastic applause.
“I like you too,” Trump said when the audience quieted.
Trump’s speech, welcomed by right-wingers, came after he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day.
On Monday, he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and departed for Rome on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump also laid a wreath and spoke at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The visit follows an initial leg in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism.
Abbas had sought to convince the unpredictable US president to remain committed to an independent Palestinian state.
Trump had arrived in Bethlehem by motorcade, crossing a checkpoint at Israel’s controversial separation wall, and was greeted by Abbas and other dignitaries outside the city’s presidential palace.
Abbas reiterated his call for a two-state solution to the conflict, including a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. — Reuters