J Street is deeply concerned that President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu studiously avoided endorsing a two-state solution at their joint appearance today. Worse, the president indicated that he considers a one-state configuration to be a plausible outcome of the conflict. This statement flies in the face of established American policy and will undoubtedly create damaging confusion among our allies and adversaries.
We’ve known for some time that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not seriously interested in pursuing a two-state solution.
But it was tremendously disturbing to hear the President of the United States fail to recognize that only with Palestinian independence can Israel remain both Jewish and democratic. This has been a core understanding of bipartisan US policy and one shared by the majority of the Jewish community and most of the international community for many years.
President Trump’s statement that he was looking at both two states and one state and preferred “the one that the parties like” was both meaningless and dangerous. How can there be a negotiation, let alone an agreement, when there is no longer a consensus on what the end goal should be? To be clear, there is no one-state configuration that leads to peace. There is no resolution to this conflict without full political rights and independence for both peoples. All so-called “one-state solutions” are recipes for more violence that will ultimately threaten Israel’s identity as a democracy and a Jewish homeland.
President Trump’s vagueness on this issue will dismay our key allies in the Arab world and will embolden extremists within Israel, among Palestinians and throughout the region.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his own narrow political reasons, may be pleased by what has transpired. True, the President asked him to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” and did not commit to moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But what President Trump did was remove the anchor that has steadied and stabilized US policy toward the region. Without that anchor, US policy is unmoored and Israelis and Palestinians will drift into ever stormier waters.
It is vital for President Trump to renew the commitment that President George W. Bush made in 2002 to support a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians resulting in two states living side-by-side in peace and security.