TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly agreed to sit down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under the auspices of President Donald Trump when the latter visits Israel later this month.
An unnamed Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Channel 2 on Wednesday an earlier report in the Arabic Al-Hayat daily that Trump is expected to issue invitations to a trilateral summit with the two leaders in an attempt to jump-start the peace process.
On Tuesday, Abbas told reporters: “We affirmed to [Trump] that we are ready to cooperate with him and meet the Israeli prime minister under his auspices in order to make peace.”
According to Channel 10, Abbas only agreed to the meeting in order to convince the international community of his willingness to restart negotiations without preconditions and the only obstacle preventing renewed negotiations is Netanyahu. This after Abbas refused multiple attempts by Netanyahu to jumpstart talks over the last few years, including Netanyahu’s decision to release Palestinian terrorists and temporarily freeze settlement activity as so-called goodwill gestures to restart negotiations.
Both Abbas and Netanyahu have expressed support for the U.S. president’s efforts to revive peace talks. Trump last week said he would play the role of “mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator” to bring about a peace deal.
Saudi Arabian King Salman invited Abbas to a summit along with 17 other Muslim heads of state to be held in Riyadh later this month during Trump’s visit to the Kingdom. Among the invitees are the kings of Jordan and Morocco and the presidents of Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt. The event is being billed as a “Islamic-Arab-American Summit.”
According to Hebrew-language Ynet news, unnamed Israeli ministers have said Netanyahu is concerned about Trump’s interest in closing what the latter called “the ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, partly because the Israeli prime minister has no sway in Congress. However, the ministers also said that although Netanyahu is likely to try to manipulate the terms of any deal, he will also cooperate with Trump.
The last time Abbas and Netanyahu met was in 2010.