Trump and Netanyahu Cozy Up, Waver on Two-State Solution
"I'm looking at two states and one state. I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," Trump said, bucking decades of U.S. foreign policy
In wandering, occasionally confused comments at a joint press conference on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump appeared to call into question the United States' backing of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I'm looking at two states and one state. I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," Trump said, as Netanyahu laughed. "I thought for a while it looked like the two-state, looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly if Bibi [Netanyahu] and the Palestinians and Israel are happy, I am happy with the one they like the best."
Middle East Eye also noted that "Netanyahu said that he did not want to see a two-state solution that would give rise to a 'terrorist, Islamic dictatorship.'"
"The Israel-Palestine peace deal has for decades been predicated on agreeing to the creation of a Palestinian state to live beside Israel as an independent nation," the Middle East Eye pointed out. "However, the White House under Trump has indicated it is no longer committed to it as a defacto solution. "
"Didn't hear anything from Trump or Netanyahu that indicates any intention to enable Palestinians to have equal rights and freedom," tweeted the group Jewish Voice for Peace.
Indeed, as Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud noted: "Since Donald Trump was sworn in, Israel has felt liberated from its obligation to doublespeak. For decades, Israeli officials spoke passionately about peace, and did everything in their power to hinder its attainment. Now, they simply do not care. Period."
Lead Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, lashed out at Trump's and Netanyahu's wavering on their commitment to a two-state solution, arguing that the only alternative to two sovereign nations is a single, secular democratic state.
"Contrary to Netanyahu's plan of one state and two systems, apartheid, the only alternative to two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 border is one single secular and democratic state with equal rights for everyone, Christians, Muslims and Jews, on all of historic Palestine," Erekat said.
Despite calling the two-state goal into question, Trump also declared during the press conference that the U.S. was committed to a "really great" peace deal, once again emphasizing his fondness for the concept of deals. Trump also appeared to be saying that the U.S. wouldn't broker such a deal, however.
"The United States will encourage a really great peace deal," Trump said. "It is the parties themselves that must directly negotiate. Both sides will have to make compromises."
Trump's comments often veered far off topic. For example, when asked about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. since his election, Trump bragged at length about his electoral college win. (Prominent white supremacist Steve Bannon was also present during the press conference.)
A transcript of the bizarre exchange was posted online soon afterward:
This whole answer from Trump, being asked about anti-Semitism in the U.S. Read the whole thing: pic.twitter.com/AblvIC3ulC
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) February 15, 2017
Yet Netanyahu appeared determined to affirm his unabashed support for the president, and followed up on the odd exchange by defending Trump from charges of anti-Semitism.
"There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump," he said:
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 15, 2017
The two right-wingers also bolstered each other's hostile stance toward Iran and denigrated the nuclear deal brokered by Obama administration, which lead the antiwar group CodePink to speculate that Trump and Netanyahu were "pumping each other up for war on Iran."