After a meeting with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump hinted at backing away from the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. In fact, breaking away from tradition and international consensus, Trump said he would be open to “alternate solutions” that does not necessarily involve a two-state solution to the six-decades- long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Since 2002, the US has formally backed the two-state solution. But Trump’s remarks were the most striking departure for American efforts – and the central theme of the Oslo accords – to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a permanent Middle East peace deal.
“It is something that is very different, hasn’t been discussed before. It’s actually a much bigger deal – much more important deal in a sense,” Trump said.
“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one,” he said, adding Israelis “also need to show some flexibility”.
Appearing at a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump hailed the “unbreakable” bond between the two countries after the bilateral relations nosedived under President Barack Obama.
The US President also asked Netanyahu to “hold back” on constructing settlements in the territory claimed by the Palestinians for their future state: “for a little bit”.
In his address, Netanyahu did not commit to Trump’s request for a hold on settlement construction, and instead set two prerequisites for peace with the Palestinians.
“First, the Palestinians must recognise the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction, they have to stop educating their people for Israel’s destruction….Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River because if we don’t, we know what will happen…We’ll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East,” he said.
Netanyahu also made it clear that Palestinians “vehemently reject” both the prerequisites for peace. “The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognise a Jewish state…is the reason we don’t have peace,” he said.
Trump also mentioned the “unfair and one-sided actions” against Israel at the UN Security Council, referring to a resolution condemning Israeli settlements, which had triggered a diplomatic fight between Obama and Netanyahu.
(With inputs from agencies)