Trump delivered his statement here in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas following a meeting the two leaders had about the prospect of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as in the Middle East broadly.

He arrived in Bethlehem by motorcade, crossing a checkpoint at Israel’s controversial separation wall, and was greeted by Abbas and other dignitaries outside the city’s presidential palace.

In a meeting at the White House three weeks ago, Trump called on Abbas to demand that Palestinian leaders condemn any and all violence against Israelis, and Abbas spoke out strongly against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

“There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever”, he said. “In this spirit of hope, we come to Bethlehem, asking God for more peaceful, safe and far more tolerant world for all of us”. “The president notably avoided all of the thorny issues that have stymied peace efforts for decades”, The Associated Press noted.

The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation.

To get to Bethlehem, the location of the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus is said to have been born, Trump passed through an Israeli checkpoint and a network of vast concrete blastwalls that separate the occupied territory from Israel.

This omission was likely tactical on Mr Abbas’s part, said Mr Shaheen, adding that the Palestinian president wants to appear flexible at this early stage of potential peace negotiations.

President Donald Trump: “As you know, Rex, our secretary of state, has done an incredible job”.

Yet many Palestinians say they are skeptical that someone with such close ties to Israel can ever be even-handed.

Trump did, however, urge Netanyahu during his visit to Washington to “hold back on settlements for a little bit”, though he did not offer any more specifics to back up the request – including whether it applied to Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The Israeli refusal to respect the most basic rights of our prisoners and its inhumane measures against them and against us, and its threats against their lives are the best indicators of its intentions.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter that Trump’s national security team was “providing updates” to the president on the situation. “It’s part of the West Bank”, part of lands that Israel annexed in the Six-Day War in 1967.

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip since taking office was being received “very, very well” in the Middle East.

In Jerusalem, Trump focused on Iran, pledging he would never let Tehran acquire nuclear arms.


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