In a seismic shift in U.S. policy in the Middle East, the White House announced that peace between Israelis and Palestinians doesn’t have to include a “two-state” solution.
One day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to the White House to meet President Trump, a senior official told The Wall Street Journal that the two sides will have to agree on what form peace between their countries will take – and that doesn’t necessarily include two states.
“A two-state solution that doesn’t bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve,” the official said. “Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution if that’s what the parties want or something else, if that’s what the parties want, we’re going to help them.”
For decades, a “two states for two peoples” has been the official U.S. policy in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Most governments around the world have backed that principle as well and it has been embraced by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.
A spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry didn’t comment and Netanyahu’s office wasn’t available to comment either. But a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization said the alternative to a two-state solution is either a single state where Arabs and Jews have equal rights or a state where Palestinians were considered second-class citizens.
“If U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to create alternative realities, then he should spell out what the options are—a one-state solution would require equal rights and citizenship for all, unless he is advocating an apartheid state,” Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. “A situation of perpetual occupation would only generate greater extremism and violence within the region and beyond.”
The comments from the White House create a dilemma for the Israeli prime minister. Mr. Netanyahu has officially advocated for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a landmark speech in 2009, but in practice he has continued to approve settlements that the international community believes undermine that goal.