Trump says US not committed to Israel-Palestine two-state solution
In press conference with Binyamin Netanyahu, president says he would consider other options
Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US president Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Decades of US policy towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appeared to be overturned on Wednesday as US president Donald Trump said he would consider a “one-state solution” to resolve the decades-long conflict.
Speaking alongside Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the White House, Mr Trump said that while he once thought a two-state solution would be “easier” he was not so sure now.
“I’m looking at a two-state and a one-state solution and I like the one that both parties like,” he said.
Palestinians also needed to “get rid of some of that hate that they’re taught from a very young age”, he said.
Mr Trump’s comments ahead of his first bilateral meeting with the Israeli leader are likely to cause alarm at the United Nations and in national capitals across the world which have long supported a two-state solution to the conflict.
Mr Trump said that, while the United States would “encourage peace and really a great peace deal . . . it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement”, suggesting that the United States may not play as direct a role in peace negotiations.
He also suggested that peace talks could involve other countries, echoing signals from the White House in recent weeks that Washington could seek to enlist the help of Arab allies to try to resolve the Middle East crisis, which has flummoxed the United States for decades.
While Wednesday marked the first meeting between the Israeli leader and Mr Trump since his inauguration as president, the two men got together in September at a meeting that was facilitated in part by Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law, who is Jewish.
Mr Kushner, the husband of Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and a senior adviser to Mr Trump, is understood to be closely involved in the formulation of the White House policy on Israel.
In one of his few criticisms of Israeli policy, the US president said he would prefer Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit”, referring to the decision by Israel to build more than 6,000 new settlement homes in the occupied territories since Mr Trump’s inauguration. He also called for more flexibility from Israel towards the Palestinians.
Standing alongside Mr Trump, Mr Netanyahu said he welcomed how Mr Trump had “challenged” Iran’s nuclear programme, a reference to Mr Trump’s criticism of the Iran nuclear deal struck by the previous US administration, the European Union and other international partners.