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.
Despite what many experts see as a long-shot bid, Trump told Abbas: ” I will do whatever is necessary … I would love to be a mediator or an arbitrator or a facilitator, and we will get this done.”
Trump has faced deep skepticism at home and abroad over his chances for any quick diplomatic breakthrough, not least because the new U.S. administration has yet to articulate a cohesive strategy for restarting the peace process.
Abbas’ White House talks follow a February visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who moved to reset ties after a combative relationship with the Republican president’s predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama.
The meeting with Abbas, the Western-backed head of the Palestinian Authority, was another test of whether Trump, in office a little more than 100 days, is serious about pursuing the kind of comprehensive peace agreement that eluded his predecessors.
Trump, during a joint appearance with Abbas, said he was ready to attempt the “toughest deal” of Israeli-Palestinian peace. But as he later sat down to lunch with the Palestinian leader, he said it was “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”
Plans are being firmed up for Trump to visit Netanyahu in Jerusalem and possibly Abbas in the West Bank, targeted for May 22-23, according to people familiar with the matter.