Sunday, 26 February, 2017

Netanyahu's meeting with Trump: Good for Israeli-Palestinian peace?

Netanyahu pledges to promote 'responsible policies' at Trump meeting Netanyahu Tells Ministers: I Told Trump Palestinians Won't Budge, He Said They'll Make Concessions
Howard Terry | 17 February, 2017, 00:23

Israel's right wing has welcomed the dawning of a new era following Wednesday's joint press conference between USA president Donald Trump and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House, while the Palestinian leadership expressed concern that Washington had abandoned its commitment to the two-state solution.

The United States would no longer seek to dictate the terms of any eventual peace settlement, but would support what the two sides agree to together, a senior White House official said.

"A two-state solution that doesn't bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve", the official said on condition of anonymity. "The positions he expressed illustrate an understanding that the two-state solution is not the only solution, and that it's time to pressure the Palestinians, who are the rejectionists here [in the deadlocked peace process]".

The U.S. president looked directly at Netanyahu at one point and urged him to temporarily stop building settlements on the West Bank.

Caption: What will they do: all the countries, governments and organizations that spent all this time on the "two-state" solution, that couldn't happen?

Trump's potential departure from a two-state solution was refreshing for Mathew Staver, president of Christians in Defense of Israel.

Hagi Ben Artzi, one of the founders of the Beit El Jewish settlement in the West Bank, struggles to contain his excitement when talking about President Donald Trump.

To have done so would have been read by many as a signal that Washington supports Israel's claim on Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish state. "It is a new president", said Sallai Meridor, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington.

"From the ruins of Amona we will build a new settlement", Bennett said.

"At long last, the end of that misguided and unsafe idea: the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel", said Israel's science minister Ofir Akunis, a member of the prime minister's Likud party.

Many Palestinian leaders in the West Bank assert that a two-state solution-an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel-is the only acceptable resolution to the intractable conflict.

Trump said last week Israel's construction of illegal settlements is not a good thing but "I don't want to condemn Israel".

He also reiterated his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. "The US-Israel alliance has always been strong, and it's about to get stronger".

The new U.S. president has also signaled that the United States, under his administration, would be far more tolerant of the illegal Israeli settlement construction.

"We'll work something out but I'd like to see a deal be made".

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the White House, said Trump's comments marked "a very dramatic development" in the search for peace in the Middle East. "Let's see what happens".

But with the one-state option now something the Trump administration is considering, it could force Netanyahu to spell out where he stands. Spicer said Trump asked Flynn to resign because of an "evolving and eroding level of trust".

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