Trump Moves Back From Two-State Solution

U.S. President Donald Trump (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

Israeli cabinet ministers welcomed United States President Donald Trump’s statement to end the long-held two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….reports Asian Lite News

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question at a joint press conference with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (not in the picture) at the White House (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

Washington would no longer insist that any peace deal leads to a recognised Palestinian state, Trump said in the first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the presidential elections.

“I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying in a joint press conference with Netanyahu.

“I can live with either one… The ‘two states’ looks like it could be the easier of the two… I’m happy with the one they like the best,” Trump added.

Israeli leaders welcomed the statement as “the end of the two-state epoch”, calling to push forward with annexation of the West Bank.

“The Palestinian flag was taken off the mast today and replaced with Israel’s flag,” said Naftali Bennet, Education Minister and leader of the pro-settler party of the Jewish Home.

Israeli Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that “it’s a very important day”, adding that Trump’s statements “prove we are in a new era”.

Trump’s approach was widely seen as a defiance of international pressure to create a state of Palestine alongside Israel as a solution to the conflict.

Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War and has controlled these territories ever since, despite international condemnations.

The Palestinians wish to build their future state on these lands, with its capital in East Jerusalem, a territory Israel annexed and claimed part of its “undividable and eternal” capital”, in a move not recognised by the international community.

Earlier in the day US President Donald Trump told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should “hold back” on building new settlement “for a little bit”.

“As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out but I would like to see a deal be made,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying at a joint press conference with Netanyahu at the White House before their meeting.

In response, Netanyahu played down the issue of settlement building.

“I believe that the issue of the settlement is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict. I think it’s an issue that has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations,” Netanyahu said.

Israel approved last month the construction of 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, amidst a spate of settlement expansion in the wake of Trump’s inauguration.

Israel’s settlement-building in disputed territory is a major dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians. The settlements are illegal under international law because they are built on lands seized by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War, where the Palestinians wish to form their future state.

The former US administration criticised Israel’s continuous expansion of the settlements, which it considered as a major obstacle to peace.

In a White House statement earlier this month, the Trump administration said “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful” in achieving Middle East peace.