Trump says can 'live with' one-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict
SAUL LOEB (AFP)
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he could "live with" either a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or a one-state solution as he held a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the leaders' first private post-election meeting.
"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," Trump said.
Trump also told Netanyahu that he'd "like to see you hold back on settlements a little bit." Trump's previous outspoken support for construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem sparked much optimism among the Israeli right, but in a Friday interview, Trump said he did not believe that "advancing settlements is good for peace."
Israel's prime minister reiterated his belief that settlements are "not the core of the conflict" and did not make any commitment to reducing construction.
Netanyahu said Israel has two preconditions for a peace deal. “First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state, they must stop calling for Israel’s destruction," he said. "Second, Israel must retain security control over all of the area west of the Jordan River,” meaning the West Bank. He said any other arrangement would create “another failed state, another Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace, but work to destroy us,” referring to the Gaza Strip, which was taken over by the terror group Hamas, which refuses to negotiate with Israel and calls for its complete destruction, after Israel withdrew from the area.
Netanyahu meanwhile assured reporters that "there is no greater support for Israel or the Jewish State than President Donald Trump, I think we can put that to rest," following claims among Trump detractors that the president had hitched his wagon to a far-right ideology and emboldened American anti-Semites.
Asked about an increase in reports of anti-Semitic incidents in the US since Trump's election, the president said that "we are going to do everything we can to stop racism.
"As far as Jewish people - so many friends, a daughter, a son-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren - I think you’re going to see a very different America in the next three, four years," he said, referring to his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner. "You're going to see a lot of love."
Anticipation for the meeting was high following a White House official's statement on Tuesday that a peace deal did not necessarily have to involve Palestinian statehood, which prompted warnings by Palestinian leaders not to abandon support for the two-state solution, and amid Israeli media reports that members of Netanyahu's Cabinet had pushed for him to convince Washington that the two-state solution was no longer relevant or feasible.
A US official speaking anonymously told reporters that a "two-state solution that doesn't bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve. Peace is the goal, whether that comes in the form of a two-state solution if that's what the parties want, or something else if that's what the parties want."
For the better part of half a century successive US governments, Republican and Democrat, have backed a two-state solution.
But since coming to office Trump has sought to show that the United States is an unwavering ally of Israel, trying to draw a contrast with President Barack Obama.