US shift on two-state solution doesn’t make sense: Palestinians

US shift on two-state solution doesn’t make sense: Palestinians

White House

Ramallah — US President Donald Trump’s break with decades of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is irresponsible and does not advance peace, a senior Palestinian said on Wednesday.

“This does not make sense,” Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi told AFP.

“This is not a responsible policy and it does not serve the cause of peace. They cannot just say that without an alternative,” she added.

On Tuesday, a senior White House official said the United States would no longer seek to dictate the terms of any eventual peace settlement by insisting on a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but would support whatever the two sides agree to together.

The comments came on the eve of White House talks between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“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.

“Peace is the goal, whether that 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.”

For the better part of half a century, successive US governments — both Republican and Democrat — have backed a two-state solution.

State Department officials expressed surprise at the comments and said Tuesday they were not aware of any policy shift on the desirability of a two-state solution.

Three officials said the department was seeking clarification from the White House comments, which came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was having dinner with Netanyahu.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

During his final White House news conference, Obama warned that the moment for a two-state solution “may be passing” and said the “status quo is unsustainable.”

It was not clear if the Trump White House had intended to declare a major shift in policy during the hastily arranged briefing Tuesday night.

Trump told The Associated Press during his campaign that he wanted to be “very neutral” and try to get both sides together.

Now in office, however, Trump has been forced to re-evaluate and revisit his position on a number of issues — including those relating to Israel.

After initially greeting Israel’s settlement announcements with a shrug, Trump appears to be having second thoughts. In an interview with a pro-Netanyahu Israeli daily last Friday, Trump said, “I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”