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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Israeli-Palestinan deal would be start of Middle East peace - Trump

Israeli-Palestinan deal would be start of Middle East peace - Trump

A deal between the Israelis and Palestinians would be the start of peace throughout the Middle East, said US President Donald Trump in a visit on Tuesday to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

"[Mahmoud Abbas] assures me he is ready to help me reach that goal," said Trump at a press conference with the Palestinian president, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "has promised the same."

Both leaders also condemned the terrorist attack in the British city of Manchester. Trump called those behind the attack "evil losers."

"I won't call them monsters, because they would like that term," said Trump, adding that so many "young, beautiful" people lost their lives in the explosion at Manchester Arena in Britain late on Monday.

Abbas, who said Trump's efforts gave him hope, stressed that the Palestinians' conflict with Israel was not religious.

"Our fundamental problem is with the occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine," Abbas said.

Bethlehem contains the Church of the Nativity, which is, according to Christian belief, built on the site where Jesus Christ was born

Abbas also called on the Israeli government to meet the demands of some 1,000 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Protesters had gathered in Bethlehem's Manger Square during Trump's visit in support of the prisoners, and prisoners' families had written Trump a letter urging him to intervene.

Abbas visited Trump in Washington earlier this month, and they both attended the summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where Trump kicked off his first trip abroad as US president.

While Trump repeatedly took a tough stance on Iran on Monday, encouraging Israeli leaders to unite with their Arab neighbours against a common enemy, Tehran was absent from his Bethlehem speech.

"You've noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning enemies into partners," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, adding that the Arab leaders Trump met in Saudi Arabia could help create the conditions for lasting peace in the Middle East.

Trump is scheduled to pay a brief visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, where he will lay a wreath, before heading to the nearby Israel Museum to give a major speech.

He will continue on to Rome later Tuesday.

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