Feb. 15 (UPI) — During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump said he “can live with either” a one-state or two-state solution as long as Israel and the Palestinians are “happy.”
“The United States will encourage … a great peace deal. We’ll be working on it very, very diligently,” Trump said, adding that both sides “will have to make compromises.”
Trump was not expected to push for a two-state solution during Netanyahu’s visit, something the Obama administration prioritized. Trump said his administration will work to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians but said such negotiations must be held directly between the two parties, something Israel has supported in the past.
“So I’m looking at two-state, and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump said in the White House. “I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians — are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
Netanyahu said there are two prerequisites for peace that remain unchanged.
“First, Palestinians must recognize a Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction,” Netanyahu said. “Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River because if we don’t, we know what will happen. Because otherwise we’ll get another radical Islamist terror state in the Palestinian areas, exploding the peace, exploding the middle east.
“Now, unfortunately the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites of peace,” Netanyahu added.
Trump told Netanyahu that he’d like to see him “hold back on settlements” until a peace deal with the Palestinians can be struck. Netanyahu said Israeli settlements were an issue but did not prevent peace from occurring.
In December, the United Nations passed a resolution criticizing Netanyahu for the country’s support of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Former President Barack Obama‘s administration regarded Netanyahu’s support of Israeli settlements as threatening the hope for a two-state solution.
Trump’s administration earlier this month issued a warning to Israel over building new settlements in the West Bank, or expanding existing ones — suggesting the move could make future negotiations for peace more difficult.
“Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate,” Trump said, adding that Palestinians should recognize the state of Israel.
Trump also criticized the Iranian nuclear peace deal in unison with Netanyahu, who opposed the agreement struck under Obama’s leadership since negotiations began years ago.
“Our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interests, and increasingly, those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force: radical Islamic terror,” Netanyahu said. “Under your leadership, I believe we will reverse the rising tide of radical Islam, and in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you and I stand with you.”