Two-state re­think shocks Pales­tini­ans

The Press - - World -

MID­DLE EAST: Pales­tinian of­fi­cials have pleaded with the White House not to aban­don the two-state so­lu­tion for a pos­si­ble peace deal with Israel, af­ter United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sig­nalled that he could ‘‘live with’’ other out­comes.

The Pales­tinian lead­er­ship ap­peared stunned when a Trump of­fi­cial said the White House was open to a new ap­proach that did not em­pha­sise two states - one for Is­raelis and one for Pales­tini­ans, liv­ing side by side - as pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions have.

Trump said yes­ter­day he once be­lieved the two-state so­lu­tion was the ‘‘eas­ier of the two’’ op­tions, but the US could embrace al­ter­na­tives, if Israel and the Pales­tini­ans agreed.

The com­ments came dur­ing the first face-to-face talks be­tween Trump and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu since last Novem­ber’s US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

They also fol­lowed dis­clo­sures that CIA chief Mike Pom­peo held se­cret talks with Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas in the West Bank on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Pales­tinian of­fi­cial.

Netanyahu has been un­der pres­sure by his Right-wing gov­ern­ing coali­tion to aban­don the two-state so­lu­tion, which he for­mally backed in 2009. Trump’s po­si­tion on the two-state par­a­digm has not been clear - and still re­mains fuzzy.

Many Pales­tini­ans would view such a shift as an aban­don­ment of a prin­ci­ple adopted by pre­vi­ous US ad­min­is­tra­tions, as well as the Euro­pean Union and the United Na­tions.

Saeb Erekat, a top Pales­tinian of­fi­cial and for­mer peace ne­go­tia­tor, said: ‘‘We be­lieve un­der­min­ing the two-state so­lu­tion is not a joke. It’s a dis­as­ter and a tragedy for Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans.’’ He said the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity re­mained com­mit­ted to the two-state goals.

Erekat said it was the Is­raeli lead­ers and sup­port­ers of the 600,000 Is­raelis who live in Jewish set­tle­ments in the West Bank and East Jerusalem who were op­posed to a Pales­tinian state.

Trump ad­vised that Netanyahu ‘‘hold back on set­tle­ments for a bit,’’ adding: ’’We’ll work some­thing out.’’

Erekat said the alternative to the two-state vi­sion was ‘‘a sin­gle demo­cratic sec­u­lar state for Jews, Mus­lims and Chris­tians’’, with full rights for all. - Wash­ing­ton Post

PHOTO: REUTERS

A girl crosses a pedes­trian cross­ing in the Jewish set­tle­ment of Beitar Il­lit in the oc­cu­pied West Bank yes­ter­day. More than 600,000 Is­raelis live in Jewish set­tle­ments in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and are op­posed to a pro­posal for a Pales­tinian state.

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