Trump To Hold First Talk With Palestinian Leader Abbas

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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President Donald Trump and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will speak over the telephone Friday, the first conversation the two leaders will have since Trump’s inauguration.

Trump took a strong pro-Israel position during his campaign, causing him to become unpopular among Palestinians. That said, he did promise to reinvigorate peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and has warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against building further settlements in the West Bank.

“As far as settlement, I would like to see you hold back on settlements for a bit,” Trump told Netanyahu during a joint press conference in February. “We [will] work something out. I think a deal will be made. I know every president, most of them did not start until late. They never thought it was possible. And it wasn’t possible because they didn’t do it.”

Trump’s administration followed up last week, warning Israel against annexing parts of the West Bank, as such action could trigger an “immediate crisis.”

The president tasked his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner with brokering a Middle East peace deal in January. He also named David Friedman, a former bankruptcy lawyer, as the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Despite Trump’s warning to Israel, Friedman is known to take a more friendly view on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Abbas said he was willing to work with Trump on a potential two-state solution in February. The Palestinian leader called for a “Palestine and Israel, living side by side on the pre-1967 borders in peace and security.”

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