Trump to meet both Netanyahu and Abbas

Officials say Trump will meet both Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss peace initiative.

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Elad Benari,

Netanyahu and Trump
Netanyahu and Trump
Hezki Baruch

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in two weeks, senior Israeli and PA officials told Haaretz on Tuesday night.

The President is expected to discuss his planned peace initiative with Netanyahu and Abbas. These would be Trump’s first meetings with them since his visit to Israel and the PA in May.

A senior White House official told Haaretz Trump plans to meet with a long list of world leaders on a wide range of issues during the General Assembly session in New York, and a complete list will be published once his schedule is finalized.

He added that talks with Netanyahu and Abbas about Trump’s peace initiative will take place before the General Assembly and will continue afterwards.

Senior Israeli and PA officials, who asked to remain anonymous, said discussions are now being held about the exact dates of the meetings, which will apparently take place between September 17 and 19.

Trump has made a concerted effort to restart stalled peace talks between Israel and the PA. His senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has visited the region several times as part of those efforts.

Most recently, Kushner visited in late August and held meetings with both Netanyahu and Abbas.

While Netanyahu thanked Trump and the delegation led by Kushner for their efforts to pursue peace and stability in the region, PA officials have expressed pessimism that Washington's peace efforts can bear fruit.

A point of contention between the U.S. and the PA is the Trump administration’s refusal to commit to a “two-state solution” to resolve the conflict.

PA officials expressed frustration over the fact the U.S. still has not committed to a two-state solution, even after the productive meeting between Kushner and Abbas.

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert recently explained that committing to a two-state solution would “bias” the outcome of a peace agreement.

Senior PA officials told Haaretz that Trump’s advisors indicated to Abbas that the U.S. President wants to meet with him during the General Assembly, and this was one of the things that convinced Abbas to accede to the American request to give the White House a chance to try to make progress in their initiative.

Though Kushner and Greenblatt didn’t give Abbas a clear timetable for unveiling the peace initiative, they said it might happen before the end of the year, the officials added.

“The Americans said they need more time to draft something and asked Abu Mazen not to make international moves like joining additional UN agencies or launching proceedings at the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” one said, referring to Abbas by his nickname.

“Abu Mazen acceded to this request in the hope that during the coming months, the administration really will present a plan or a position that could constitute a real basis for restarting the diplomatic process,” he added.