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BBC News

Posted 2017-05-23 09:19:57 - by Hà Trung Thành
Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas - 23 MayImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Trump says he looks forward to working with Israeli and Palestinian leaders for lasting peace

US President Donald Trump has said he will "do everything" to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace.

In a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, he spoke of being gratified that the Palestinian leader was ready to confront terrorism.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held direct talks for more than three years and Mr Trump has acknowledged it was "one of the toughest deals of all".

This is the last day of the US president's visit to the Middle East.

But in both the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians have held angry protests against the visit.

On Monday, Mr Trump stressed the strong bonds between the US and Israel.

'Noble mission'

Mr Trump said he had come to Bethlehem, where the talks with Mr Abbas were held, "in a spirit of hope".

"I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians," he said. "And I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal.

"I look forward to working with these leaders for lasting peace."

He said that President Abbas had assured him he was ready to work in good faith towards that goal.

Mr Abbas said he welcomed Mr Trump's "noble and possible mission", and that he was ready to be his partner in the quest for peace.

The US president began his statement with a condemnation of Monday evening's attack at a concert in Manchester, UK.

"So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life," he said.

Later on Tuesday Mr Trump returned to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and make a speech at the Israel Museum.

The two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories forms part of Mr Trump's first foreign trip as US president.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rioters threw stones at a protest against Mr Trump's visit in the West Bank on Monday

No simple deal: Analysis by Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor

President Trump sees himself as a great dealmaker, with the personality to cut through the difficulties that have defeated lesser people.

The only credible ideas still require the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. The reality is that the Israelis and Palestinians are way apart on the main issues - the future of east Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of an independent Palestine. The two sets of leaders also do not trust each other.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been occupied by Israel for 50 years. Some of the most influential members of the Israeli government believe the land is a Jewish possession, given by God.

The Palestinians are deeply divided, with Fatah in charge in the West Bank and in Gaza the Islamists of Hamas, who have been condemned by President Trump in the last few days as terrorists.

It is highly unlikely that even President Trump's outsize personality will be enough, on its own, to end a conflict that has lasted more than a century. Making this deal is not about fixing a price - it is about reconciling enemies with radically different world views.

What is the mood in the territories?

On Monday Palestinians gathered to protest against Mr Trump's visit, and over conditions in Israeli prisons, at military checkpoints around the West Bank.

Hundreds of stone-throwing youths clashed with Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

At least one person was injured at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem.

In the Gaza Strip, other Palestinians trampled photos of the US leader and, according to Reuters news agency, burnt an effigy of him.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested against Mr Trump's visit

A "day of rage" has been called for Tuesday by the Palestinian prisoners' committee.

Hundreds of jailed Palestinians have been on hunger strike since 17 April. Activists were hoping to hold up protest banners in Bethlehem on Tuesday to make Mr Trump aware of the action.

What did Trump say about Iran?

Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, he promised that Iran would never have nuclear weapons and accused it of supporting "terrorists".

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWatch: Donald Trump visits sacred Western Wall and makes Iran warning

"Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you," Mr Trump told Mr Netanyahu.

In return, Mr Netanyahu extolled the US president's leadership.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played down Mr Trump's strong criticism of Iran at a summit in Saudi Arabia at the weekend, saying: "Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran?"

Have Trump's domestic troubles pursued him abroad?

The president's visit was overshadowed by political difficulties at home.

Speaking to Mr Netanyahu on Monday, he sought to dispel suggestions that he had passed on sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian diplomats at a recent meeting, saying he had not mentioned the word "Israel" at the meeting.

What's next on President Trump's tour?

He will travel to Rome later on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with Pope Francis.

On Wednesday he will continue to Brussels to see Nato leaders.

On Friday, he will return to Italy to meet other world leaders at a G7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina, where climate change is expected to be discussed.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWhat's on the agenda?
  • Tuesday, 23 May: Bethlehem and Jerusalem
  • Wednesday 24 May: Rome and Brussels. Mr Trump will meet Pope Francis, then Belgian officials
  • Thursday, 25 May: A Nato meeting in Brussels
  • Friday, 26 May: Sicily, for a summit of G7 members

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