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Trump Calls On Israelis, Palestinians To Compromise For Peace

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Israelis and Palestinians to reach a compromise for peace, saying that both sides showed readiness to do so during his two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank.

Trump, on his first trip abroad since taking office in January, is seeking progress toward what he has called the "ultimate deal" -- a peace pact between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, Trump reaffirmed what he called the unbreakable bond between the United States and the Jewish state, saying his administration "will always stand with Israel."

Trump said that his meeting in Bethlehem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas earlier in the day led him to believe that "Palestinians are ready to reach for peace."

Trump, who held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 22, said that Israel also wants peace but that the road toward a deal would be long and difficult.

"In my meeting with my very good friend Benjamin, I can tell you also that he is reaching for peace. He wants peace," Trump said.

"Making peace, however, will not be easy. We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions," he said. "But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal."

'Personally Committed'

Trump said he was "personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement," but also noted that Hamas and Hizballah rockets are still being launched into Israeli communities and schools.

Trump offered no specifics on how he planned to make progress in resolving the long-running conflict.

He did not specifically mention the two-state solution, which has long been the focus of international peace efforts and U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.

Speaking alongside Trump, Netanyahu welcomed Abbas's condemnation of the deadly attack in the English city of Manchester.

Netanyahu, who has frequently accused Abbas of inciting violence, said that the Palestinian leader's condemnation could be "the first and the crucial step toward the road to a genuine peace."

Netanyahu also told Trump that a "durable peace" can be advanced under Trump's leadership.

In Bethlehem, Trump said that If Israel and the Palestinians can forge an agreement it could "begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East."

Abbas said that he was eager to "keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors."

He reiterated Palestinian demands including the establishment of a capital in East Jerusalem, territory Israel also claims.

Abbas said that "our problem is not with the Jewish religion, it's with the occupation and settlements, and with Israel not recognizing the state of Palestine."

Standing Ovation

In his Israel Museum remarks, Trump vowed that Iran would never possess nuclear weapons under his watch.

"Iran's leaders routinely call for Israel's destruction. Not with Donald J. Trump," he said, prompting a standing ovation from the audience.

Trump also called for building an international coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremism and terrorism.

In remarks alongside Abbas, he condemned the bombing that killed at least 22 people including children in Manchester, saying it was carried out by "evil losers."

Trump offered his "deepest condolences" to the victims and their families, adding that "civilized nations must join together to protect human life."

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Trump also paid a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial, where he called the Nazi extermination of six million Jews "the most savage crime against God and his children."

Trump lit the memorial's eternal flame and laid a wreath in honor of the victims.

In brief comments, he called the Holocaust "history's darkest hour."

The only way to "prevent this agony from repeating," he said, is to never "be silent in the face of evil."

Trump was traveling from Israel to Rome and is to visit the Vatican on May 24 and meet with Pope Francis.

He had come to Israel from Saudi Arabia, where he attended a summit with leaders of predominantly Muslim countries.

The U.S. president is to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a Group of Seven (G7) summit that is being held in Sicily on May 26-27.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP
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