Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington earlier this week hoping to re-establish better relations with the White House after his fractious relationship with former U.S. President Obama over the last eight years.
Netanyahu and his wife were warmly received by U.S. President Trump and First Lady Melania. And, in the first meeting between Netanyahu and Trump since his election, the American leader signaled a change of direction on U.S. policy in the Middle-East. Trump dropped the long-standing U.S. insistence on a “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I thought for a while the two state looked like it might be the easier of the two but honestly if Bibi, and if the Palestinians, if the Israelis and the Palestinians are happy, I am happy with the one they like the best.”
– U.S. President Donald Trump
The Israeli Prime Minister also did not commit to the “two-state solution” and said he wanted to focus more on “substance” than “labels.” Netanyahu stressed he has two prerequisites for peace.
“First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction. They have to stop educating their people for Israel’s destruction. Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.”
-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Meanwhile, Palestinians have reacted strongly to the policy shift by The White House which they say may undermine Palestinian efforts to have their own state.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said:
“If the Trump administration rejects this policy, it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad. Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy.”
– Hanan Ashrawi, Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member.
Both the Israeli and U.S. leaders also addressed other contentious issues like Israeli settlements and the Iran nuclear deal.
To discuss the meeting between Netanyahu and Trump and the future of security and peace in the Middle East:
- Chuck Freilich, a former deputy National Security Adviser in Israel and senior analyst at the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
- Hussein Ibish. He is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute.
Trump seems to think Arab states will play in his peace sandbox but without two states as the solution they can't. https://t.co/MZB5KMToEP
— Martin Indyk (@Martin_Indyk) February 16, 2017
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) February 15, 2017