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Report: Trump described Netanyahu as ‘bigger problem’ than Abbas

US President Donald Trump (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, on 15 February, 2017 [REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque]
US President Donald Trump (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, on 15 February, 2017 [REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque]

US President Donald Trump described Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a greater obstacle to advancing peace talks than Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, according to a report in Haaretz.

Trump is said to have made the remarks in conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 19 September, the paper says, citing a number of “Western and Israeli sources who were either present at or briefed on the meeting”.

“Trump said both leaders are problematic,” said one Western diplomat. “But the general context was that from the two of them, Netanyahu is the bigger problem.”

A White House official, cited by Haaretz, disputed the account of the meeting. “The president said that he feels both sides want to make peace and he remains optimistic about an enduring peace deal. We are focusing on our productive conversations and not on the noise created by spoilers.”

The Trump-Guterres meeting was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. Western diplomats cited by Haaretz said: “Trump reiterated to Guterres that he’s determined to try to advance a historic peace deal.”

Read:American pressure over settlements ‘temporary,’ says Netanyahu

Trump reportedly told Guterres that while Abbas “is very old – 82 – and suffers from domestic political problems, he needs a legacy to leave behind.”

Netanyahu, meanwhile, “understands that he’ll never have a president more understanding of Israel’s security needs, and therefore there’s a chance that he’ll agree to steps he hasn’t agreed to in the past.”

In light of these assessments, Trump apparently thinks “there’s a good chance of producing an agreement”. Guterres reportedly “encouraged Trump to continue pushing for Israeli-Palestinian peace and stressed that he, too, thinks there’s an opportunity to reach a historic deal.”

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
  • peepsqueek

    As long as there remains a significant ambition in the Middle East for the banner of Islam to fly over 100% of the Middle East land mass, Israel’s security needs are so primary that it supersedes any resolution that puts in them in a position of vulnerability. As soon as every Jew(s) were removed from the Gaza, rockets began to rain down on Israel within weeks. Lesson learned! Palestinian Arabs must demonstrate that they can maintain secure borders/lines.

  • Helen4Yemen

    All the pm of that little state have been Europeans.
    Why don’t the Arab Jews elect one of their own? Do the
    Arab Jews feel inferior to the European Jew?

    Original name………. Family origin

    Mileikowsky…………… Lithuania

    Ukraine…… 2006-2009

    Arik Scheinermann….. Russia

    Ehud Brog………………. Ukraine

    Szymon Perski…………. Poland

    Unknown ………………. Ukraine

    Icchak Jeziernicky…… Belarus

    Mieczyslaw Biegun….. Belarus

    Golda Mabovitch…….. Ukraine

    Levi Shkolnik………….. Ukraine

    Moshe Shertok……….. Ukraine

    David Grün…………….. Poland

  • Wow…this is really surprising, to be honest. Still, I wonder whether he is a bit more pragmatic than he lets on, he was a New York businessman after all for many years, and thinks very carefully before making any decision.