UN Official: Israeli Settlement Activity Significantly Increasing Pace in 2017

President Donald Trump will not centre his Israel-Palestinian policy goals on achieving a two-state solution to the conflict, a senior White House official said, signalling a shift from a longstanding USA position that has underpinned years of unsuccessful peace talks.

The two-state solution envisions independent Israeli and Palestinian states coexisting side by side peacefully. The Israeli leader held tight to both sides of his podium and stared back at Trump, stonefaced.

"So I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like".

When US president Donald Trump and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a press conference on February 15, they made news.

A big shift is in the emphasis by the administration on getting other Arab nations, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia at the forefront, to push Palestinians to commit to a deal toward peace and stability while the United States pushes Israel toward the same goal.

Netanyahu, speaking to Israeli reporters, repeated what he had said during a joint news conference with Trump earlier in the day, when an Israeli reporter asked about a spike in expressions of anti-Semitism since Trump's election, which the reporter linked to the xenophobic tone of Trump's rhetoric.

Trump's nominee for ambassador to Israel, David M Friedman, is a lawyer who identifies with hardliners in Israel, questions the two-state solution, backs news settlements and has said that he looks forward to working from the USA embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump also told Netanyahu that he would like to see Israel "hold back on settlements a little bit".

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Trump is putting his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has long-standing personal ties to Netanyahu, in charge of this peace process.

"Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like". What the Israeli perhaps are pushing for is the status quo in a permanent form, so Palestinians having some autonomy in their various villages and areas under Israeli control. We are going to stop crime in this country.

And that such a "two state solution" was the only hope for a long-term and lasting settlement.

He urged Trump's administration to get onboard. He said he would be "very happy" with whatever the Israelis and Palestinians decide.

What is the two-state solution?

Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home, the party most closely identified with the West Bank settler movement, was delighted with the outcome of the White House talks. "Let's see what happens". The only viable peace deal, on this view, involves merging them into a single state, comprising all of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, where everyone has equal civil rights.

Israel is a state with widespread worldwide recognition. President Trump has described as a "terrible deal" the 2015 agreement which lifted global sanctions on Iran in return for scaling back its nuclear programme.

"President Trump has led a very important effort in the past few weeks, just coming into the presidency, he pointed out the Iranian violations on ballistic missile tests, by the way, these ballistic missiles are inscribed in Hebrew 'Israel must be destroyed, '" Netanyahu said.

  • Adam Floyd