Donald Trump arrives in Bethlehem for talks with Abbas

Published by Théophile Niyitegeka
On 23 May 2017 saa 10:46
Views :
47 2

Visit comes after US president failed to explain how to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks after meeting with Netanyahu

Donald Trump has arrived in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as the US president seeks to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The short visit in Bethlehem on Tuesday comes a day after Trump met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as Palestinians held a general strike in support of hundreds of hunger-striking prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Meetings with Netanyahu concluded on Monday with Trump promising to help broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, but gave little indication of how he could revive negotiations that collapsed in 2014.

"It’s not easy. I have heard it is one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we are going to get there eventually. I hope," Trump said after the meeting, without elaborating.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Bethlehem, said Palestinian officials were not clear of Trump’s intentions during Tuesday’s visit.

"They have told us they were listening, they were watching and they were trying to figure out whether Trump’s visit was another visit where he was seeking ideas or whether he was going to come up with his own ideas," Abdel-Hamid said.

The last round of peace talks, led by then-President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, fell apart in 2014.

One point of contention is the fate of occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967.

During his presidential campaign, Trump advocated breaking with decades of precedent and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, deeply alarming Palestinians.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and former adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, says Trump’s comments about striving for a negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinians are not promising.

"The time is now for the world to end Israel military rule," she told Al Jazeera. "It’s not going to come through negations; it’s only going to come through exerted efforts to hold the Israelis accountable by boycotting through sanctions and bringing them before the international criminal courts."

"That Palestinians have to negotiate their freedom and prove ourselves worthy of freedom is repugnant," Buttu added, arguing that Trump should use its multi-billion dollar financial support to Israel as weight to pressure it from ending its occupation of Palestinian territory.

"I have very little faith that he will be able to do anything with the Israelis to change their policy," she concluded. "I don’t anticipate anything positive is going to come out."

’Day of rage’

The Palestinian prisoners’ affairs committee called for a "day of rage" on Monday for "the voice of the prisoners to be heard by the president".

Tuesday marks the 37th day of a mass hunger strike inside Israeli jails. Palestinian news agency Ma’an estimates that more than 1,300 Palestinians are currently on strike behind bars in Israeli prisons, while Israeli outlets have placed the number in the high hundreds.

On Monday, Israeli forces shot and injured at least 11 Palestinian protesters who staged a general strike in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip in support of those prisoners on hunger strikes.

In a separate incident on Monday, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager as he allegedly attempted to stab a border police officer at a checkpoint near Bethlehem.

In Gaza, Hamas organised a demonstration on Monday to denounce its labelling as a "terrorist" group by many Western governments, including the United States.

After talks with Abbas, Trump will travel to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and give a speech at the Israel Museum.

JPEG - 42.2 kb
Trump is welcomed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in Bethlehem

Source:Al Jazeera


Advertisement

YOUR OPINION ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

RULES AND REGULATIONS

Kwamamaza