Israel's Channel 2 TV reports, citing unidentified American with knowledge of encounter, President Trump shouted at Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas during meeting in Bethlehem, questioning his commitment to peace.
Trump met with Abbas in Bethlehem last week during his two-day visit to Israel. The two held a joint press conference, at which time the president praised Abbas' commitment to restarting negotiations with Israel for a final status agreement. But according to a report by Israel's Channel 2 TV on Sunday evening, the closed-door meeting between the president and the PA chairman was anything but cordial.
As IsraelNationalNews.com reports, a US official present during the meeting claims the president expressed outrage with Abbas, yelling at him regarding Abbas’ claims that his Fatah faction was not involved in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement.
“You tricked me in Washington,” the president is said to have yelled at Abbas, referencing the PA leader’s March trip to the US capital.
During his March get-together with the president, Abbas claimed he was dedicated to advancing peaceful relations with Israel, and that the PA was not engaged in incitement against the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu publicly called out Abbas’ claim, noting the PA’s continued material support for jailed terrorists and promotion of hateful propaganda encouraging young Arabs to take up arms against Israel.
"I heard President Abbas yesterday say that the Palestinians teach their children peace,” said Netanyahu. “Unfortunately, that's not true. They name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists,” he said at the opening of a meeting with the Romanian prime minister in Jerusalem.
According to the American official who spoke with Channel 2, beyond the PM’s statement, Israel also provided the White House with proof of the PA’s support for and promotion of terrorism.
“You talked to me about peace, but the Israelis showed me that you are personally supporting incitement,” Trump reportedly told Abbas last week.
During their joint presser last Tuesday, President Trump alluded to the PA’s funding for jailed terrorists, calling it an obstacle to peace.
"Peace can never take root in a place where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” said President Trump.
“We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice. Peace is a choice we must make each day, and the United States is here to help make that dream possible for young Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children all across the region."
Bloomberg reports that Palestinians close to Abbas have disputed the report, saying that the meeting was good. Abbas' office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem declined to comment.
Of course, once again we have unnamed US sources leaking this conversation but it leaves The White House in an awkward spot: 1) Deny the angry exchange (and risk Trump's strong friendship with Bibi), or 2) Not Deny it (thus throwing considerable cold water on any hopes of a peace accord)… thus ruining any hopeful narrative from Trump's trip as being positive.