Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.image courtesy : Al Jazeera

President Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time on Friday, and invited him to the White House, both American and Palestinian spokesmen confirmed.

In his first phone call with Abbas since he took office, Trump on Friday told the Palestinian leader that he believes the time has come to make a deal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said sources.

The White House said in a statement that the two leaders on Friday discussed ways to advance peace throughout the Middle East, including a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The US President emphasised his “personal belief that peace is possible”,spokesperson Sean Spicer said.

“The President noted that such a deal would not only give Israelis and Palestinians the peace and security they deserve, but that it would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world,” he said.

Trump has expressed interest a number of times since his election victory in achieving what he calls “the ultimate deal”,peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The issue came up in his meeting with Netanyahu last month in Washington, during which Trump told the Israeli Prime Minister that “both sides will have to make concessions” in order to reach peace.

Trump is unpopular among Palestinians because he appeared to break from his predecessor and adopt friendlier positions toward the Israeli government; ambivalence has marked his position toward a two-state solution to the conflict, he’s considering to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek as the capital of their future state, and has adopted a more lenient approach to Israel building settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians.

However, Trump’s administration last week warned Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, saying it would trigger an “immediate crisis” between the two allies.

The move suggested Trump may be returning to more traditional US policy and will not give Israel free rein to expand its control over the West Bank and sideline the Palestinians, as Israeli nationalists had hoped.

Trump has previously suggested he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Israeli right-wingers have encouraged Netanyahu to use Trump’s election as an opportunity to formally annex parts of the West Bank into Israel.