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Why Trump-Abbas meeting has rattled Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned that the US president's inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a meeting in the White house, well before many other important world leaders, reflects a determination to advance a two-state deal.
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they deliver an statement at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTS1502B

Donald Trump was not the first American president to welcome Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House. As at the meetings with President Bill Clinton, when Abbas sat next to PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and subsequent talks with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the sides discussed a diplomatic process with Israel, the need to combat terrorism, the severe economic problems in the Palestinian territories and opportunities to promote regional peace. It’s too soon to tell whether Trump’s stated desire to make a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians will bring the sides closer than did the efforts of his predecessors, all of which ended in deep Palestinian disappointment. But there are several hopeful signs in this latest meeting.

The first is the invitation itself, extended to Abbas so early in the US president’s term. A stateless leader, a president who barely controls his own territory, got the nod before heads of far larger and more important countries standing in line for a photo-op with Trump. It placed Abbas in the same tier of White House invitees as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Deputy Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdul-Aziz, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. And all within the first six months of Trump’s first term.

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