President Trump Travels to Beit Lechem for Talks With PA’s Abbas

BEIT LECHEM (Reuters) -
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the PA headquarters in Beit Lechem, Tuesday. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump traveled in a high-security convoy to Beit Lechem on Tuesday to discuss Middle East peace talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Much of central and southern Yerushalayim was shut down to allow the presidential motorcade of around 60 vehicles to make its way from President Trump’s hotel to the town, just five miles to the south.

President Trump held talks with Abbas, whom he met at the White House earlier this month, before the two issued separate statements. President Trump traveled back to Yerushalayim to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and deliver a speech at the Israel Museum.

During their White House talks, President Trump praised Abbas, and said he looked forward to working with him to pursue peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

During meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday, President Trump focused attention on the threat from Iran but also talked about the opportunities for peace in the region and how Saudi Arabia and other Arab states were shifting their stance, potentially opening a window for a peace agreement.

Palestinian officials say they are ready to resume the negotiations with Israel that collapsed in 2014, but the road ahead remains challenging. Abbas is an unpopular leader, according to polls, and the Palestinian political landscape is split between his Fatah party and Hamas, the Islamist movement that is in control in the Gaza Strip and opposes negotiations with Israel.

In Gaza demonstrations were expected later on Tuesday, following protests on Monday, to oppose Trump’s visit to the region.