TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump has convinced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make certain concessions that will allow the peace process to move forward, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder told Israeli lawmakers at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.
Lauder, considered one of the closest Jewish leaders to Trump, has the president’s ear, according to the Jerusalem Post. The Lauder and Trump families have been friends for decades. Lauder, who has extensive ties in the Arab world, has advised the president on how to advance diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East, the report said.
Lauder, who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unofficial envoy to Syria, told Israeli ministers at the conference that he was confident Trump would succeed in his attempt to jumpstart the moribund peace process.
The politicians briefed by Lauder included Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis, as well as opposition leader Isaac Herzog.
“Trump is very optimistic that he can renew the peace process,” one of the politicians told the Post after speaking to Lauder. “Lauder understands from Trump that he believes Abbas can be convinced by him and Arab leaders to come back to the table and make concessions.”
Three of the ministers, Bennett, Shaked and Akunis, emphatically expressed their opposition to a Palestinian state in their speeches at the conference, saying that Abbas has not proved himself a viable partner for peace.
Herzog, on the other hand, had harsh words for Netanyahu but praised Trump.
“So far, Trump’s peace efforts have been impeccable,” Herzog said. “We know what Trump wants. What Netanyahu wants, no one knows. I have grave doubts about Bibi’s intentions. If he wants peace, he will enjoy political support even from my camp. But if he opts for what Bibi usually wants, he will find us a fierce opposition and we will replace him as soon as possible.”
Trump is scheduled to arrive in Israel on the morning of Monday, May 22 for a two-day visit. He will be arriving from Saudi Arabia. Some reports have said he will also visit Bethlehem in the West Bank to tour the Church of the Nativity and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the second time this month. The first meeting was in Washington on May 3.