Two-state rethink shocks Palestinians
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
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.