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Trump To Back Palestinian Self-Determination In Trip To Israel

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WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump will express his support to Palestinian self-determination in his first trip to Israel later this month, a senior US official said on Friday, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

“With President Abbas (of Palestine), he will express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians,” said US national security adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster at a White House briefing, adding that Trump will also reaffirm America’s “unshakable bond” to Israel.

Asked by reporters whether Trump may try to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the same room together during his visit, McMaster said final plans have yet to be set. “It will obviously be up to the president and those leaders about how he wants to engage with them.

But he’ll engage with both those leaders there as part of the trip,” said McMaster. McMaster said that Trump’s visit to Israel will come after a visit to Saudi Arabia on May 19, in which he will encourage Arab and Muslim partners “to take bold, new steps” to counter terrorism.

After the trip to the Middle East, Trump will travel to Europe for meetings with Pope Francis at the Vatican, NATO leaders in Brussels, and G7 leaders in Sicily, Italy, said McMaster.

Trump’s first visit to Israel will come less than a month after his meeting with Abbas in Washington, in which Trump pledged his commitment to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Trump hadn’t so far publicly expressed his support for a two-state solution, a longstanding US stance on the issue.

In a major departure from the longtime US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump said in February that he was open to either a one-state or two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I’m looking at two-state, one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. … I can live with either one,” Trump said then at a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – BERNAMA

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