Trump envoy meets Netanyahu, Abbas

Posted March 15, 2017

Donald Trump's Middle East envoy will meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank tomorrow, after spending five hours with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

Before the meeting Tuesday at Abbas's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jason Greenblatt emphasized the USA president's commitment "to the effort to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve a lasting peace through direct negotiations", according to a statement. Greenblatt also emphasized during the meeting that Trump feels that allowing for the development of the Palestinian economy and improving Palestinians' quality of life is important.

Palestinian leaders have expressed interest in cooperating with the USA and Israel to improve the Palestinian economy, but have stressed that such efforts need to be a part of a plan to establish an independent Palestinian state.

His platform made no mention of Palestinian statehood, a key goal of the USA and worldwide community for two decades.

Israel has issued 35 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners, including one woman, within the last two weeks.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama took a hard line against the settlements, and Trump himself raised them with Netanyahu when the two men met at the White House last month.

While Trump has indicated he would not impose US dictates on Israel, it's uncertain if he plans to carry through on that.

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Tuesday's meeting with Abbas comes less than a week after Abbas held his first phone call with Trump, in which the two leaders stated their desire to work to achieve a peace agreement.

Greenblatt told Abbas that U.S. President Donald Trump is committed to working with both sides "to achieve a lasting peace through direct negotiations".

Palestinians argue that Israeli settlements in the West Bank hinder the possibility of a deal.

Abbas also said "he would create an atmosphere conducive is conducive to making peace and would heighten his outreach efforts to the Israeli public", the statement said. Both men also affirmed the "joint determination to combat violence and terrorism".

Speaking Tuesday night, Netanyahu said the two administrations were trying to reach an understanding on the issue.

Palestinians have demanded a settlement construction freeze for negotiations to renew. Trump's nominee for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who awaits approval from the Senate, is known to support settlements.