On September 26th, US President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The most significant outcome of their meeting was the fact that Trump officially expressed his support for the two-state solution idea.
“I like two-state solution. Yeah. That’s what I think… that’s what I think works best. I don’t even have to speak to anybody, that’s my feeling… I think two-state solution works best,” Trump said.
During the meeting he also said that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was “a big chip” the US delivered to Israel. “I took probably the biggest chip off the table. And so obviously they have to start you know we have to make a fair deal. We have to do something. Deals have to be good for both parties.” Trump said he believed that the embassy “was always the primary ingredient as to why deals couldn’t get done.”
The details of the Middle East peace plan his administration has been working on would be revealed in two to three months, Trump noted, and assessed that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table, “100 percent.” Trump said “Israel will have to do something good for the other side.”
The two-state “solution” is mostly aspirational. Ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians over the division of territory, borders and governance are yet to be resolved.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters he was not surprised by U.S. President Donald Trump’s remark that he favored a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying “Everyone defines the term ‘state’ differently.”
Netanyahu said he expects Trump to accept the Israeli approach that any possible peace scenario would leave security control of territories west of Jordan in Israel’s hands. “I am willing for the Palestinians to have the authority to rule themselves without the authority to harm us,” Netanyahu said, assuming that the US plan would reflect his views.
Haaretz asked the Israeli Prime Minister whether a Palestinian “state minus,” as he defined it, would become a reality during his term, Netanyahu said “I suggest you wait and see. It is important to set what is inadmissible to us: Israel will not relinquish security control west of Jordan. This will not happen so long as I am prime minister and I think the Americans understand that.”
He reiterated that he had previously told Trump that “the question is whether the state next to us will be like Costa Rica or like Iran.”
Palestinians, however, rejected Trump’s comments. Husam Zomlot, head of the recently closed Palestinian mission in Washington, DC, denounced the US president’s comments. “Their words go against their actions and their action is absolutely clear [and] is destroying the possibility of the two-state solution,” Zumlot said.
The Palestinian leadership, which sees East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, suspended contacts with the US after it recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians insist the status of the city is an issue to be negotiated between them and the Israelis.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, told reporters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that Trump needs to act on his statement.
“In response to what Trump said about the two-state solution, the two-state solution means to us that we have a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Abu Rudeineh said. “This is the only way to achieve peace.”
He added that Palestinians want to resolve all core issues of the conflict with Israel – borders, illegal settlements, refugees, security and the status of Jerusalem – “according to the UN resolutions.”
Trump and Netanyahu also spoke about the crisis with the downed Russia IL-20 over Syria. Trump said that he would talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the tensions “when appropriate.”
Netanyahu also thanked Trump for his “strong words and strong actions against Iran at the General Assembly. Secondly for the extraordinary support for Israel in the UN.”
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni welcomed Trump’s remarks, saying that “The two things he said about Israel future – both the Unites States’ firm stand for Israel’s security and his support for a two-state solution.”
Netanyahu will also meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, as well as a number of world leaders, including Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The meeting between Trump and Netanyahu happened shortly before Trump chaired a UN Security Council meeting about nuclear proliferation, which he began by accusing China of expected meddling in the midterm elections.