The end of US commitment to a two-state solution

ABED AL HASLHAMOUN

Palestinians watch a broadcast of the joint press conference in Washington, USA between visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump, at a Nutella shop in the West Bank city of Hebron 15 February 2017. It is the first official visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu since President Trump has taken office.

Washington is abandoning its role as a diplomatic facilitator


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On Wednesday President Trump demolished the diplomatic foundations of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine while asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to “hold back a little” on settlements.

No commitment to two-state solution

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” the US President said while encouraging the two parties to engage in direct negotiations. No negotiation has taken place since 2014.

For the Palestinians, a state would comprise of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 and has more than 500,000 settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Trump confirmed on Wednesday that Washington is bracing to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, actively undermining the two-state solution.

However, President Trump also called on the Israeli Prime Minister to “hold back on settlements a little bit.”

Netanyahu made no commitment of the sort. Meanwhile, Trump also said that the UN Resolution condemning Israeli settlements last December, which the Obama administration did not veto, was pronounced by President Trump as “unfair and one-sided.”

epa05795583 US President Donald J. Trump (R), with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), responds to a question from the news media during a joint press conference in the East Room in of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 15 February 2017. This is the first official meeting of the two leaders since President Trump has taken office.  EPA/SHAWN THEW

US President Donald J. Trump (R), with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), responds to a question from the news media during a joint press conference in the East Room in of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 15 February 2017. This is the first official meeting of the two leaders since President Trump has taken office. EPA/SHAWN THEW

If not two states then what?

Historically, the only alternative to a two-state solution is a single democratic state for citizens of all religious creeds, which cannot be a Jewish state. The other is to suggest that the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 will be formally annexed and Palestinians expelled.

A third option is what Prime Minister Netanyahu has called in 2009 “independence minus,” that is, autonomy without full sovereignty. On Wednesday, Netanyahu demanded from Palestinians not only the recognition of the state of Israel but also the acceptance that there will be security control by the Jewish State east of the river Jordan.

A problem with all three “solutions” is that Palestinians are not willing to embrace them, describing them as occupation or even apartheid.

In the meantime, President Trump encouraged Palestinians to “get rid of some of that hate they’re taught from a very young age.”

Reactions

“There is no alternative (…) other than the solution of establishing two states and we should do all that can be done to maintain this,” UN Secretary General Guterres commented from Egypt on Wednesday.

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