Trump invites Palestinian President to White House

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 11 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit the White House soon, spokesperson Sean Spicer said.

In his first phone call with Abbas since he took office, Trump on Friday told the Palestinian leader that he believes the time has come to make a deal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Washington Times reported.

The US President emphasised his "personal belief that peace is possible", Spicer said.

"The President noted that such a deal would not only give Israelis and Palestinians the peace and security they deserve, but that it would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world," he said.

According to official Palestinian News Agency WAFA, Abbas reiterated his commitment to peace as a strategic choice to establish the Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

Palestinians are concerned at the more favourable approach shown by Washington toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Trump came to power.

Netanyahu and Trump have spoken on the phone at least twice since the inauguration, and the Israeli Prime Minister visited Washington last month.

At his meeting with Netanyahu, Trump broke with decades of US policy by saying he was not bound to the two-state solution for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Spicer emphasised the long-lasting US stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that a peace agreement must be negotiated directly between Israel and Palestine.

That took an indirect jab at a UN resolution passed last December that demanded Israel stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.

Former President Barack Obama let pass that resolution in a major departure from the US tradition of shielding Israel from UN reproaches despite Trump's adamant opposition.

According to Palestinian officials, Abbas would emphasise his concern about Israeli settlement-building on occupied land and the need for a two-state solution to the conflict.

"Abbas stressed the commitment to peace as a strategic choice to establish a Palestinian State alongside the state of Israel," the Palestinian leader's spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdainah said.

The peace process has been deadlocked since April 2014 following the collapse of indirect negotiations led by then US secretary of state John Kerry.

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Tuesday met for the first time the Palestinian envoy to the world body, Riyad Mansour.

After the talks, Haley tweeted the Palestinians should "meet with Israel in direct negotiations rather than looking to the UN to deliver results that can only be achieved through the two parties".

Israel has long favoured direct bilateral talks, while the Palestinians argue they need the international community to ensure Israel follows through on its pledges.

Trump has previously suggested he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Israeli right-wingers have encouraged Netanyahu to use Trump's election as an opportunity to formally annex parts of the West Bank into Israel.