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Spicer: Trump is the missing ingredient for Israeli-Palestinian peace

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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas listens as President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The White House said Wednesday that President Trump's unique personal qualities have increased the prospects for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"I think the man is different," press secretary Sean Spicer said about Trump when asked why Middle East peace is possible now after decades of strife and several failed negotiations brokered by the United States. "The president's diplomacy style is paying dividends."

Trump, who has a good relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, at the White House to discuss Middle East peace and what it would take to forge an agreement with Israel.

The Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel's right to exist as a majority Jewish state since Israel's founding. Israel has similarly refused to renounce the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to reclaim land as their own that was that was designated Israeli territory when the Jewish state was formed. Except for Egypt and Jordan, Arab countries in the region have joined the Palestinians in declining to recognize Israel.

The conflict has devolved into war several times, sometimes immediately following the failure of U.S.-led peace talks. But Spicer said that Trump's superior "negotiating skills" have been the missing ingredient in the 70 year-old schism, giving Abbas and Netanyahu the confidence they need to reach peace.

"You have two individuals that, because of this president, are increasing their desire for peace," Spicer said.