Veteran negotiators optimistic about Trump’s Mideast bid

DEAD SEA, Jordan — Two veteran Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, who logged many hours together in failed efforts to strike a deal, said Saturday they are optimistic about President Donald Trump’s Mideast bid.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat and former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke in separate interviews on the sidelines of a regional World Economic Forum meeting. Erekat remains the chief Palestinian negotiator while Livni is a leading opposition member of Israel’s parliament.

Trump was in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the first stop of the president’s first international trip, at a time when his young administration is engulfed in controversy. On Monday and Tuesday, Trump is to visit Israel and the West Bank, for meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Erekat told The Associated Press that he is encouraged by Trump’s determination, describing the president as “very serious” about reaching a deal.

The Palestinian negotiator dismissed reports that Israeli and Palestinian delegations would meet later in the week, following Trump’s visit to the Holy Land. The last round of U.S.-led negotiations broke down in 2014, and no serious talks on the leadership level have taken place since 2008.

“I don’t think there is anything set yet, not in Cairo, not in Ramallah, not anywhere,” Erekat said. He met two days ago with Trump’s regional…

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