The White House viewed this visit as a start simply because the president visited both leaders in their home territories and reinforced his commitment to solving a dispute that has bedeviled American presidents for generations. Mr. Trump has assigned Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his longtime lawyer now serving as White House negotiator, to lead his Middle East peacemaking effort.
Mr. Trump made no demands of Mr. Abbas in their public comments other than an indirect plea to stop payments to the families of Palestinian attackers held in Israeli prisons. “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Mr. Trump said, without saying who was doing that.
Mr. Abbas, who visited Mr. Trump at the White House earlier this month, repeated “our commitment to cooperate with you in order to make peace and forge a historic peace deal.” But just as Mr. Netanyahu had done on Monday, Mr. Abbas outlined the same conditions that he has maintained for years without indicating that he would be willing to meet in the middle.
“Once again, we reassert to you our positions of accepting the two-state solution along the borders of 1967, the state of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem living alongside Israel in peace and security,” Mr. Abbas said.
Blaming Israel for the long impasse, he added: “Our fundamental problem is with the occupation and the settlements and failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine in the same way we recognize it, which undermines the realization of a two-state solution.”
That model — the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel — has been the cornerstone of peace talks and American policy for two decades or more.
But Mr. Trump has signaled that he is not committed to that formula, long dismissed by some of his advisers, including David M. Friedman, his newly arrived ambassador to Israel. At a White House meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in February, Mr. Trump said he could live with a one-state solution or a two-state solution or any other formula to which the two sides agree.
In the past, Mr. Netanyahu has nominally supported creation of a Palestinian state but lately has largely avoided expressing that as he faces pressure from the political right within his own governing coalition not to compromise. Opponents of the formula within his cabinet argue that a Palestinian state would simply provide a haven for terrorists without guaranteeing Israeli security.
Mr. Trump came to Bethlehem on the road from Jerusalem, a short drive but a world away culturally, politically and economically. Even for a presidential motorcade, security was especially tight along the way as Mr. Trump rode through a checkpoint and passed along the security barrier that has separated the two peoples.
For Mr. Trump and at least some members of his team, this is all an education and they have, at times, stumbled over the details.
The president’s daily schedule for Tuesday originally referred to Mr. Abbas as the president of “Palestine,” a term that the United States government generally does not use because it implies a state that does not yet exist. Two hours later, the White House issued an updated version of the schedule in which it replaced the word Palestine with “Palestinian Authority.”
After the meeting with Mr. Abbas, Mr. Trump headed back to Jerusalem where he planned to lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance memorial, and then deliver a speech at the Israel Museum discussing his visit and his hopes for peace.
After wrapping up the fourth day of his nine-day overseas trip, Mr. Trump is scheduled to fly Tuesday evening to Rome and meet on Wednesday at the Vatican with Pope Francis. From there, the president will travel to Brussels for a gathering of NATO leaders on Thursday and finally to Sicily on Friday for the annual summit meeting of the Group of 7 leading nations.
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