CIA chief met Palestinian leader Abbas ahead of Netanyahu visit: report

Greg Nash

CIA Director Mike Pompeo held secret talks with Palestinian officials in the West Bank Tuesday evening, ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first summit with President Trump, according to reports.

Palestinian sources told Haaretz that Pompeo and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Syria.

They were the first top-level talks between a Trump administration official and the Palestinians.

“The Americans needed to understand that the collapse of the PA — in such a manner that there will be no way to implement the two-state solution, as quite a few elements in the Netanyahu government are striving for — will lead to the entry of extremist elements, perhaps associated with Iran,” a Palestinian source told Haaretz.

{mosads}The source added that the Palestinians received positive messages about the prospects of a two-state solution at the meeting.

The head of Palestinian intelligence, Majid Faraj, and senior negotiator Saeb Erekat were also in attendance. The meeting was held at the Palestinian government compound in Ramallah, the PA’s de facto capital in the West Bank, The Associated Press reported.

The meeting came a day before Netanyahu arrived in Washington for his first sit-down with Trump since the U.S. leader’s election and amid growing anxiety over Trump’s break with decades-old U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump on Wednesday said he could support either a one-state or two-state solution.

“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 at a joint press conference with Netanyahu at the White House.

“I thought for a while the two-state [solution] looked to be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Bibi and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Past administrations from both parties have backed a two-state solution, with an Israeli state and a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu during the presser also said Palestinians needed to recognize the state of Israel and the country’s security needs.

He said it is necessary for Israel to maintain security control over the area west of the Jordan River, which includes the West Bank, to prevent “another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas.”

Trump on the campaign trail and in office has promised better relations with Israel. Netanyahu publicly clashed with former President Barack Obama on a number of issues, including the peace process and the nuclear deal with Iran.

As a candidate, Trump also vowed to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a change critics warned could inflame Palestinians and the Middle East. But since then, the administration has suggested any move could take time.

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