Top Palestinian Authority Official Denies Reports of Trump-Led Regional Peace Initiative

President Donald Trump placed a note in the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, becoming the first sitting USA president to visit one of Judaism's holiest sites.

"He even said that past problems between the U.S. and Bahrain are over with; we know he's selling them weapons now", Madsen added.

Mr Abbas said he welcomed Mr Trump's efforts, which had "given all the nations across the region so much hope and optimism of the possibility of making a dream come true".

Husam Zumlot, a former adviser to Abbas who is now the Palestinian ambassador in Washington, said the contours of any deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians were well known to both sides. The US president met with Abbas in the biblical city of Bethlehem, which serves as a visual relic of the complexities of the region's conflict.

Trump appeared to be effectively saying, alongside Netanyahu, "Sure, I divulged secrets to Russian Federation, but don't worry, I didn't tell them that I received the secrets from Israel". While the API, when proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, originally offered peace between Israel and the Arab world after a complete Israeli withdrawal to boundaries existing prior to the 1967 Six Day War, the proposal has since been modified by the Arab states to make it more palatable to Israel. He did not weigh in Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem or even whether the U.S. would continue to insist on a two-state solution giving the Palestinians sovereign territory.

In its official itinerary for Trump's visit to Israel and the disputed territories, the White House referred to Abbas as the leader of "Palestine", which could be construed as a form of recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

The last talks, led by former U.S. president Barack Obama, collapsed in 2014. The prime minister leapt to his feet when the president said his administration "will always stand with Israel".

He added, "First the two-state solution must exist and be implemented".

Netanyahu's tone was somewhat less upbeat, with sharp criticism for Abbas.

Trump will also soon realize that both Israelis and Palestinians see through an American standoffish peace-brokership posture, even when it's hidden behind pompous promises to "get it done".

It is not a religious conflict, and respecting the Abrahimic religions is an original part of Palestinian beliefs, Abbas stated. If negotiations were to resume, they needed to be about the core issues, not talks about talks, he said.

But did Donald Trump's whistlestop trip to the region actually achieve anything or was it simply a chance for him to escape the whirlwind of hostile headlines back home and bask in the adoration that a president usually expects during the honeymoon period following his inauguration? "We are ready. Everything is ready".

Perhaps most striking was President Trump's choice not to mention the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which Israel and the Arab states agree can serve as a basis for a comprehensive approach.

  • Jack Mann