Donald Trump has been a true believer in the idea of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but, according to an Israeli TV report, the bloom may be off that rose.
The president met with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority last week in Bethlehem, and Trump unloaded on Abbas for deceiving him when it comes to the Palestinians’ commitment to peace.
“You tricked me in DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel],” Trump is said to have shouted at a shocked Abbas.
The TV report said the outburst was followed by several minutes of shocked silence from the Palestinians, and that the meeting was very tense before the two sides managed to get back on track.
Palestinian sources denied the report, saying the meeting was good and to the point.
Israeli television reported on the exchange in Hebrew, but one reporter tweeted about the meeting in English.
Breaking: @realDonaldTrump shouted at Abbas in Bethlehem: You tricked me in DC! The Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement
— Udi Segal (@usegal) May 28, 2017
Publicly, Trump continued to maintain his own commitment to a peace process and gave assurances that the Palestinian leaders are interested in working things out as well.
“I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal,” Trump said. “President Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”
At Trump’s final appearance in Israel, at the Israel Museum on Tuesday afternoon, the president declared that Abbas and the Palestinians “are ready to reach for peace.” Departing from his prepared text, he added: “I know you’ve heard it before. I am telling you. That’s what I do. They are ready to reach for peace.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, doubted the assertion that Abbas is ready for peace by noting that, had the Manchester attack been carried out by a Palestinian terrorist, Abbas would have rewarded the terrorist’s family financially.
Is President Trump naive enough to believe that the Palestinians really want peace with Israel? Or has he fallen for Abbas’ smooth talk? Time will tell if Trump’s statements at the end of the Israel trip demonstrate a true belief or if they’re just rhetoric.