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Palestinian president says ready to meet Netanyahu

Danan Radio: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the resumption of the long-stalled so-called peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.

Abbas told reporters during talks with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday that he was ready to meet Netanyahu in line with efforts by US President Donald Trump to revive the talks.

Abbas, who met Trump in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks, said the US president was expected to visit the occupied Palestinian territories “soon.” There are speculations that the visit will occur on May 23.

“We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli PM under his auspices to build peace,” media outlets quoted Abbas as saying. “We told him again of our commitment to a peace based on justice, with international resolutions and the two-state solution as references.”

“We are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem” in the occupied West Bank, Abbas added.

Trump announced last week that his first foreign trip as president would include stops in Saudi Arabia, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Vatican.

The US president has been seeking ways to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The last round of the so-called peace talks collapsed in April 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

The Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law as they are built on occupied territories.

Observers say the Trump administration’s positions on the Israeli settlements and the peace process are not clearly formulated, if formulated at all.

Trump himself and several officials in his administration have made pronouncements that have been either vague or in contrast with comments made by other officials.

Earlier, the US president took a much milder, less clear-cut tone, saying that he was “not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

Before taking office, Trump had strongly slammed the administration of former US President Barack Obama for not vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned the Israeli settlements.

Since the inauguration of Trump in January, the Israeli regime, which sees in him a stronger supporter than Obama, has stepped up its construction of settler units on occupied Palestinian land.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

A general view shows buildings under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds on March 7, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Trump has also implied that he considers Jerusalem al-Quds as the future capital of Israel. Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state. They want Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of that state.

The US president has also vowed to fulfill a campaign pledge to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

In February, Trump spoke of a “much bigger deal,” suggesting that he was ready to abandon decades of American policy in favor of a “two-state solution.”

His remarks were, however, a departure from Washington’s previous stance of firmly supporting a two-state solution under previous administrations.