Diplomacy

Trump to Abbas: Palestinian Leaders Must “Speak in a Unified Voice Against Incitement”

President Donald Trump said “no lasting peace” can be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians “unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence,” during a joint appearance with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday.

Sounding a more optimistic tone, Trump also indicated that “there’s a very, very good chance” that peace could be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians during his presidency, and stressed the need for “two willing parties,” the Associated Press reported.

Trump asserted that “any agreement cannot be imposed by the United States or by any other nation,” and that it was up to Israel and the Palestinians to work out peace between themselves. He also said that he’d “love to be a mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator” between the two sides, suggesting a return to the premise of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which mandated “that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.”

In recent years, Abbas has orchestrated international efforts to unilaterally impose the terms of an agreement on Israel through the United Nations and other international organizations. He boasted of this approach in an op-ed published in The New York Times six years ago, in which he called for the admission of Palestine to the UN as a means to internationalize “the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one.”

In his remarks, Trump made no specific mention of a two-state solution as being necessary for peace. While the president was expected to discuss the issue of Palestinian payments to convicted terrorists with Abbas, he did not mention it in their joint appearance.

Trump’s insistence that Washington would not impose the terms of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians aligns with an assessment made earlier in the day by Eran Lerman, a former member of Israel’s National Security Council. Lerman said in a conference call hosted by The Israel Project, which publishes The Tower, that Trump’s approach to the peace process would mark a return to the stance adopted by former Secretary of State James Baker, who said, “we cannot want peace more than the sides themselves.”

Lerman said that Trump is not “in the business of imposing parameters. He was very adamantly opposed to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that came close to laying down parameters.”

“I don’t think he’s going to offer the Palestinians more than the best offices of the United States in creating the conditions for successful negotiations if they are willing to compromise, and on the assumption that Israel ultimately – if there’s a good offer – the will will be found to accept a workable compromise,” he added.

A complete recording of Lerman’s call is embedded below.

[Photo: TIME / YouTube ]