US President Donald Trump on Wednesday shelved Washington’s years-long quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying he would back a single state if it led to peace.
Trump warmly welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House and hailed the “unbreakable” bond between their countries.
While he urged Netanyahu to “hold back” from building Jewish settlements for a “little bit,” Trump broke with international consensus insisting on a future that included a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
“So 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,” he said. “I can live with either one.”
Trump said he had thought a two-state solution “looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
“I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they’re taught from a very young age,” Trump said, echoing Netanyahu’s account that Palestinians are not ready for peace.
Netanyahu had warm words for the Israeli-US alliance and reiterated his nation’s prerequisites for peace.
“First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction,” Netanyahu said.
“Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River,” he said.
This region contains the entire West Bank area that would represent the heart of any Palestinian state as conceived in all previous international agreements.
The administration of former US president Barack Obama had warned Israel that if it did not reach a two-state deal with the Palestinians, it would never reach an accommodation with the Arab world.
Netanyahu said he was developing closer security ties with his Sunni neighbors, who share Israel’s concerns about Iranian subversion and “radical Islam.”
He urged Trump’s administration to get onboard.
“For the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but increasingly as an ally,” he said. “I believe that under your [Trump’s] leadership, this change in our region creates an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen security and advance peace.”
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