Trump drops commitment to two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump (centre) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at the South Portico of the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Mr Trump said he would be happy with either a two-sta
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump (centre) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at the South Portico of the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Mr Trump said he would be happy with either a two-state or one-state arrangement, as long as both Israelis and Palestinians like it.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump has 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.

The new President warmly welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Wednesday and hailed the "unbreakable" bond between their countries. While he urged Mr Netanyahu to "hold back" from building Jewish settlements for a "little bit", Mr Trump broke with international consensus that insists 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." This change in the US stance was calculated to please Mr Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition.

"As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises," he said. Turning to Mr Netanyahu, he asked: "You know that, right?" Mr Netanyahu replied with a smile and said: "Both sides."

Mr Netanyahu had warm words for the Israeli-US alliance, and hammered home his own prerequisites for peace. "First, the Palestinians must recognise 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.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday demanded a halt to Israeli settlement expansion in occupied territory and said he was committed to a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'Trump drops commitment to two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution'. Print Edition | Subscribe