Palestinian leader meets Trump envoy at Arab summit

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 Mar 2017

Abbas, US
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has met one of US President Donald Trump's top envoys on the sidelines of an Arab summit as the White House seeks ways to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The meeting on Tuesday night comes ahead of Abbas's expected visit to the White House in April and after Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt held wide-ranging talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this month.

Greenblatt said on Twitter that he held a "very positive meeting" with Abbas ahead of Wednesday's Arab summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh.

"Continued discussion on how to make tangible progress on peace," he said.

Abbas's talks at the White House are expected to follow a visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, scheduled for April 3.

Jordan's King Abdullah II is also expected in Washington soon.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab states to have signed peace treaties with Israel and would likely be considered key players in any renewed peace effort.

"All these meetings will have a positive impact on the Palestinian issue," Abbas said.

Trump has sent mixed signals over how he will address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as he has pledged to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem in recognition of the city as Israel's capital, a blow to international efforts to foster a two-state solution to the conflict.

In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House last month, Trump broke with decades of US policy by saying he was not bound to a two-state solution to the conflict and would be open to one state if it meant peace.

But he also called on Israel to "hold back on settlements for a little bit."

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said last week that Israel has ignored a Security Council resolution approved in December demanding a halt to settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory.

An opinion poll released by a right-wing Israeli think tank on Wednesday found that Jewish Israelis' willingness to agree to a withdrawal from the occupied West Bank as part of a peace agreement had fallen from 60 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2017.

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