Trump meets Abbas, predicts 'very good chance' of peace with Israel

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President Donald Trump welcomes Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

Following Trump, Abbas said in remarks translated from Arabic that the Palestinian leadership's "strategic option" is to pursue a two-state solution for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Trump said he believes Israelis and Palestinians are both willing to make a peace deal, adding that he does not think it will be as hard as people thought.

US officials had said ahead of Wednesday's meeting that Trump would press Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.

"As far as a permanent solution, we believe that this is possible and able to be resolved", Abbas said.

Even so, he also acknowledged getting both sides to agree on a peace plan could be an uphill climb, calling Middle East peace the "toughest deal to make".

"Hopefully something terrific can come out between the Palestinians and Israel", the United States president said at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

Trump urged Palestinian leaders to condemn violence and terrorism against innocent people throughout the Middle East.

"Mr. President, with you we have hope", Mr. Abbas said.

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Trump said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding that he would "do whatever is necessary" to reach an agreement.

The Palestinian Authority president also took the opportunity to highlight the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler colonial rule, mentioning the grave situation of Palestinian refugees and those imprisoned in Israeli prisons as "the suffering of my people". The Palestinian leader said a peace agreement could be reached under "the courageous leadership of Donald Trump".

We aspire to out freedom, dignity and self-determination, Abbas added after recalling that they have been suffering the Israeli occupation for half a century.

The meeting comes amid the Trump administration's efforts to lay the groundwork for brokering a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel.

On Wednesday, Trump hosted Abbas at the White House, and pledged to move forward.

The approach could be based in part on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israeli-occupied territories in exchange for normalized relations between Israel and Arab countries.

Earlier Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence held an Israel Independence Day celebration at the Old Executive Office Building, effectively a White House annex.

Trump said the Palestinians must speak with a unified voice - referencing the split between the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

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