Tillerson: Trump put ‘pressure’ on Netanyahu and Abbas to revive negotiations

Tillerson says Trump put “a lot of pressure” on Netanyahu and Abbas to revive peace talks.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump put “a lot of pressure” on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas to revive peace talks during  his visit in Israel this week.

“There were very substantive discussions in Israel with both Netanyahu as well as Abbas,” Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Trump was “very forceful” in his discussions with the two leaders, and “everyone has to compromise,” Tillerson said. He also suggested Israeli-Palestinian relations could have a domino effect on peace in the region.

“[Trump] has made the point several times: we solve the Israeli-Palestinian peace dilemma, we start solving a lot of the peace throughout the Middle East region,” he said.

It is unclear if the “pressure” exerted by Trump would resonate with Israeli leaders. Israel has rejected past assertions that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would heal all other regional ailments, including the Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State (ISIS) threat and Iranian aggression.

Israel Hayom  reported Thursday that Trump told Abbas during their private meeting in Bethlehem on Tuesday that his peace initiative will be based on the Saudi plan for a normalization of ties between Israel and Arab countries in the region, which would then lead to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Saudi initiative includes a demand for full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the absorption of millions of Palestinian “refugees” into Israel.

The report quotes a Palestinian official who said that Trump has not abandoned the two-state peace plan, but he does seek to explore other possible venues, including a broad Middle East peace plan and another interim agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump and Abbas discussed the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians during a press conference in Bethlehem, and while Trump called for the resumption of peace talks, he notably stopped short of endorsing the idea of a Palestinian state.

In several speeches throughout his two-day visit to Israel, Trump spoke in general terms about his belief that the time is ripe to reach a deal, but made no mention of a two-state solution.

By: World Israel News Staff and JNS.org