Donald Trump declared in a joint press conference Wednesday with Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, that he would support either a two-state or a one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This effectively reverses a long-standing US policy supporting the two-state solution, which is supported by 70.5% of the United Nations’ members.
“The United States will encourage a peace and really a great peace deal … We will be working on it very, very diligently. But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement,” Trump said.
Trump’s position contradicts UN Security Council resolutions and the consensus position of the international community.
Netanyahu said that he preferred to focus on substance rather than labels, and declared that there are two prerequisites for peace. First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. Second, Israel must retain complete security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.
Trump also declared that he will move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and asked Netanyahu to “pull back on settlements for a little while.”
Earlier Wednesday UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that there is “no alternative” to a two-state solution. “There is no alternative solution for the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis, other than the solution of establishing two states and we should do all that can be done to maintain this,” Guterres said.
Palestinian officials also warned the US against abandoning the two-state solution. “If the Trump administration rejects this policy it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said.
“Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy,” she said in a statement.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem, which Israel seized during the 1967 Middle East war.
Netanyahu’s commitment to the two-state solution has long been in doubt, despite his commitment, with conditions, to the two-state goal in a speech in 2009, since he has also expressed support for a “state minus” option, in which Palestine would be offered autonomy but without full statehood, while Israel would retain full security control of the area. According to Al Jazeera, most Palestinian and Arab commentators would describe that either as occupation or as apartheid.