Abbas said invited to White House mid-April

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Washington mid-April to meet with US President Donald Trump, Palestinian media reported Saturday.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report from the White House.

The report of Abbas heading to Washington came just after Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt visited Israel and the West Bank.

Trump spoke to Abbas for the first time over the phone last week and invited the Palestinian leader to the White House in the near future.

“President Trump has extended an official invitation to President Abbas to visit the White House soon to discuss ways to resume the political process, stressing his commitment to a peace process that will lead to a real peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said at the time.

Abbas was scheduled to visit Cairo on Sunday at the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Army Radio reported. The two were expected to discuss Trump’s initiative to reenergize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The summit follows two months of tensions between the PA leadership and Egypt, which included the expulsion of Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub after his arrival in Cairo.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president's assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (WAFA)

Abbas told Trump’s special peace envoy Greenblatt on Tuesday that he believes a “historic” peace deal with Israel is possible with Trump in office, according to a US Jerusalem Consulate General readout.

During a meeting at the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah, Abbas committed to combat Palestinian incitement, the statement said. The Palestinian leader and Greenblatt also discussed building up the PA’s security forces, advancing the peace process, and improving the Palestinian economy.

According to the readout, Abbas told Greenblatt that “he believes that under President Trump’s leadership a historic peace deal is possible, and that it will enhance security throughout the region.”

“President Abbas committed to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and incitement,” the statement added.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been adamant that PA-sanctioned media and school curriculum are responsible for inciting terrorism.

Abbas told Greenblatt that the Palestinians see the two-state solution as their “strategic choice.”

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP/ SAUL LOEB)

The PA leader said he was “looking forward to discussing the possibilities for peace directly with President Trump during his upcoming visit to Washington,” the readout said.

Greenblatt described the meeting on Twitter as a “positive, far-ranging exchange about the current situation.”

The Palestinian daily al-Quds cited sources in the US Congress who said Greenblatt warned Abbas that US lawmakers are working to condition US aid to the Palestinians — with the exception of security assistance — on ending incitement, including payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists.

The PA pays monthly stipends to families who have a member who is considered to have been “martyred,” which usually means being killed by an Israeli while carrying out a terror attack or suspected attack, or who is spending time in Israeli prison for perpetrating a terrorist act.

The US government has already taken measures to ensure its aid isn’t funneled to the families of terrorists. That includes paying the debts of the PA directly, rather than transferring funds into the PA’s coffers.

Abbas has called numerous times to reinstate the US-Palestinian-Israeli tripartite anti-incitement committee, including at the Seventh Fatah Congress in December. The committee was formed as part of the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, and met every two months until the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000. However, images depicting and glorifying attacks on Israelis have also been posted on Facebook pages associated with Abbas’s Fatah party.

Abbas and Greenblatt also “reaffirmed the US and the Palestinian Authority’s joint determination to combat violence and terrorism,” the US readout said.

Prior to meeting Abbas in Ramallah, Greenblatt met with a group of Palestinian hi-tech entrepreneurs, Greenblatt said on Twitter.

During the meeting With Abbas, Greenblatt also discussed “plans to grow the Palestinian economy and the importance of ensuring economic opportunities for Palestinians, which would enhance the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace,” the readout said.

After the meeting, Greenblatt toured the Jalazone refugee camp in Ramallah.

Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Monday, March 13, 2017. (Photo Credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

Greenblatt told Netanyahu during their talks last week that “enabling the growth of the Palestinian economy and improving the quality of life for Palestinians” were important to Trump. The prime minister replied that he was “fully committed to broadening prosperity for Palestinians,” seeing the issue “as a means of bolstering the prospects for peace.”

On March 10, Trump held his first phone conversation with Abbas, inviting him to visit the White House “soon.”

Abbas said that his phone conversation with Trump was “constructive” and that the US president had “confirmed his full commitment to the peace process.”

He added: “We will continue to cooperate with [Trump], in order to arrive at a comprehensive and just peace that will bring security and stability to everyone.”

The US administration is currently said to be weighing how to proceed with a renewed peace effort after Abbas’s visit to Washington. One possibility being considered is a regional summit, to be held in Egypt or Jordan.

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