Trump to meet Palestinian leader Abbas in West Bank

US President Donald Trump is to meet the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on the final day of his visit to the Middle East.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held direct talks for more than three years and Mr Trump acknowledged it was “one of the toughest deals of all”.

On Monday, he stressed the strong bonds between the US and Israel.

He also warned of the threat from Iran to international peace, a theme he spoke on earlier in Saudi Arabia.

He told Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Iran would never have nuclear weapons.

The two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories forms part of Mr Trump’s first foreign trip as US president.


No simple deal: Analysis by Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor

President Trump sees himself as a great dealmaker, with the personality to cut through the difficulties that have defeated lesser people.

The only credible ideas still require the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. The reality is that the Israelis and Palestinians are way apart on the main issues – the future of east Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of an independent Palestine. The two sets of leaders also do not trust each other.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been occupied by Israel for 50 years. Some of the most influential members of the Israeli government believe the land is a Jewish possession, given by God.

The Palestinians are deeply divided, with Fatah in charge in the West Bank and in Gaza the Islamists of Hamas, who have been condemned by President Trump in the last few days as terrorists.

It is highly unlikely that even President Trump’s outsize personality will be enough, on its own, to end a conflict that has lasted more than a century. Making this deal is not about fixing a price – it is about reconciling enemies with radically different world views.


What is the mood in the territories?

A Palestinian protest against Mr Trump’s visit, and over conditions in Israeli prisons, turned into a riot on Monday at the Qalandia checkpoint in the West Bank, close to Jerusalem.

In the Gaza Strip, other Palestinians trampled photos of the US leader and, according to Reuters news agency, burnt an effigy of him.

Mr Trump said he hoped his visit to Mr Abbas could be “useful and fruitful”.

Can Trump’s trip bring peace any closer?

Speaking about the prospect of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, Mr Trump said on Monday: “I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all.”

But he added that he had a “feeling that we’re going to get there eventually”.

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What exactly did Trump say about Iran?

Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, he promised that Iran would never have nuclear weapons and accused it of supporting “terrorists”.

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“Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you,” Mr Trump told Mr Netanyahu.

In return, Mr Netanyahu extolled the US president’s leadership.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played down Mr Trump’s strong criticism of Iran at a summit in Saudi Arabia at the weekend, saying: “Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran?”

Have Trump’s domestic troubles pursued him abroad?

The president’s visit was overshadowed by political difficulties at home.

Speaking to Mr Netanyahu on Monday, he sought to dispel suggestions that he had passed on sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian diplomats at a recent meeting, saying he had not mentioned the word “Israel” at the meeting.

What’s the next leg of President Trump’s tour?

He will travel to Rome to meet Pope Francis and Brussels to see Nato leaders.

On Friday, he will return to Italy for to meet other world leaders at a G7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina, where climate change is expected to be discussed.

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  • Monday, 22 May: Jerusalem
  • Tuesday, 23 May: Bethlehem and Jerusalem
  • Wednesday 24 May: Rome and Brussels. Mr Trump will meet Pope Francis, then Belgian officials
  • Thursday, 25 May: A Nato meeting in Brussels
  • Friday, 26 May: Sicily, for a summit of G7 members

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