US President Donald Trump shelved Washington’s years-long quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Wednesday, saying he would back a single state if it led to peace.
The new president warmly welcomed Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House and hailed the “unbreakable” bond between their countries.
And 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.”
This change in the US stance was calculated to please Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition.
“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 argument that the Palestinians are not ready for peace.
Netanyahu had warm words for the Israeli-US alliance, and hammered home his own prerequisites for peace.
“First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction,” he said.
“Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.”
This region contains the entire West Bank area that would represent the heart of any Palestinian state as conceived in all previous international agreements.
Netanyahu insisted he was already developing closer security ties with his Sunni neighbors, who share Israel’s concerns about Iranian subversion and “radical Islam.”
And he urged Trump’s administration to get on board.
“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 told Trump.