‘We will get it done,’ Trump says of Mideast peace deal

Cape Breton Post - - World -

De­spite bleak prospects for suc­cess, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump promised on Wed­nes­day “to do what­ever is nec­es­sary” to forge an Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace deal.

At a White House meet­ing with Pales­tinian leader Mah­moud Ab­bas, Trump pledged to rein­vig­o­rate the stalled Mideast peace process that has be­dev­iled his pre­de­ces­sors and said he would serve as “a me­di­a­tor, an ar­bi­tra­tor or a fa­cil­i­ta­tor” be­tween the two sides. “We will get it done,” Trump con­fi­dently told Ab­bas.

“I’m com­mit­ted to work­ing with Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans to reach an agree­ment,” Trump said. “But any agree­ment can­not be im­posed by the United States or by any other na­tion. The Pales­tini­ans and Is­raelis must work to­gether to reach an agree­ment that al­lows both peo­ples to live, wor­ship, and thrive and pros­per in peace.”

The source of Trump’s op­ti­mism was not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. He of­fered no de­tails about his ef­fort or how it would be any dif­fer­ent from at­tempts over the past two decades. For­mer Pres­i­dents Bill Clin­ton, Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama all tried and failed.

The peace process has been stalled since 2014, and there have been no se­ri­ous at­tempts to restart ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Like pre­vi­ous U.S. lead­ers, Trump faces nu­mer­ous ob­sta­cles in the long-shot bid. They in­clude the con­tours of a po­ten­tial Pales­tinian state, Jerusalem’s sta­tus and the ques­tion of Pales­tinian refugees. Com­pli­cat­ing it all are the ve­he­ment Pales­tinian crit­i­cisms of Is­raeli set­tle­ment con­struc­tion and Is­raeli com­plaints that Pales­tini­ans are in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.

Ab­bas in­sisted he is com­mit­ted to peace, but he made clear Pales­tinian de­mands for a sep­a­rate state based on bor­ders that ex­isted be­fore the 1967 Mideast war, a cap­i­tal in east Jerusalem and the re­turn of Pales­tinian refugees.

“Our strate­gic op­tion, our strate­gic choice is to bring about peace based on the vi­sion of two states, a Pales­tinian state, with its cap­i­tal of east Jerusalem, that lives in peace and sta­bil­ity with the state of Is­rael based on the bor­ders of 1967,” he said.

Is­rael re­jects the 1967 lines as a possible border, say­ing it would im­pose grave se­cu­rity risks. Is­rael also op­poses Pales­tinian de­mands on refugees and stakes its claim on an un­di­vided Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of the Jewish state.

Trump did not dis­cuss any of those is­sues Wed­nes­day. But in a Fe­bru­ary news con­fer­ence with Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, Trump broke with long­time U.S. pol­icy by rais­ing the idea of a one-state peace agree­ment, with­hold­ing clear sup­port for an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tine. U.S. of­fi­cials quickly stressed af­ter­ward that Trump would sup­port any ar­range­ment agreed by the two sides.

AP PHOTO

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shakes hands with Pales­tinian leader Mah­moud Ab­bas dur­ing their meet­ing in the Oval Of­fice of the White House, Wed­nes­day.

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