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President Donald Trump on Monday expressed optimism about the potential that a peace deal between Israel and Palestine could be reached during his presidency, an achievement which has eluded American presidents for four decades.
"I think there's a good chance it could happen," Trump said at the start of a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, part of the United Nations General Assembly's opening week.
"Most people would say there is no chance whatsoever, but I actually think with the capability of Bibi and frankly the other side, I really think we have a chance," Trump said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname, Bibi. "I think Israel would like to see it, and I think the Palestinians would like to see it."
Netanyahu echoed Trump's optimism, telling reporters that he and Trump would "discuss the way we can seize the opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab world. I think these things go together and we look forward to talking about how we can advance both."
Trump and Netanyahu also said they would discuss the Iran nuclear deal, a multilateral agreement reached in 2015 which Israel opposes, and which Trump has repeatedly criticized.
Asked by reporters whether the United States plans to stay in the deal, Trump replied, "you'll be seeing very soon. We're talking about it constantly, so you'll see."
Trump is scheduled to meet later in the week with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where the conversation will likely focus on the same issues. In August, Trump's special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, visited the Middle East for meetings with Israeli officials and representatives from a half-dozen Arab countries.
It's unclear what, if anything, Trump intends to do to restart the stalled negotiations. So far, he has refused to endorse the so-called two-state solution, a hallmark of American policy under Trump's predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Under a two-state solution, an independent Palestine would exist alongside an independent Israel.