Donald Trump today changed US policy, saying he’s not wed to a two-state resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In his press conference with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said:
As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out. But I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made. 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 could live with either one. 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. The Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard, it’s hard to do… I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate…
The new reality is already being reflected in the media. The New York Times has a story up on the policy shift. “Trump, Meeting With Netanyahu, Backs Away From Palestinian State.”
On MSNBC, Cal Perry said the two-state solution had been U.S. policy “till this morning.”
Perry then posed important questions. If there’s one state, will Palestinians have “equal rights?” Will they have “citizenship” rights? Will they be drafted for the army? What will happen to their right of return as refugees? Will they be under civilian rule?
While Martin Fletcher asserted that if Israel and Palestine become one state, Israel will “never agree to one person, one vote.”
Also today, it was revealed that Mike Pompeo, the new director of the CIA, was in the West Bank last night, meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas– evidently preparing Palestinians for the news coming out of the White House today.
Many in the human rights community will welcome the end of a hypocritical period in which the U.S. maintained a two-state policy even as no viable state was possible in light of Israel colonization. Jamil Dakwar of the ACLU writes:
The 2-state solution has been long dead so the choice is between an apartheid colonial state or one democratic state with full equal rights.
While Yousef Munayyer crystallizes the moment, and the issues, for the Institute for Middle East Understanding:
“The comments by the Israeli Prime Minister and President Donald Trump today make one thing perfectly clear; the questions about one-state or two-states are dead and decided. There is and will be one state between the river and the sea encompassing millions of Israelis and Palestinians. The question now is what sort of state will that be, one of full equality or an Apartheid state. In his comments today, and in his policies, Netanyahu has made clear he will never support relinquishing control over the West Bank and favors perpetual occupation or Apartheid. For years the United States has supported this in its actions but opposed it in its words. Now President Trump has finally put America’s mouth where its money has been all these years.
“This is the clarifying moment we had been expecting. Now Americans must ask themselves what it is that they support, an exclusivist, ethno-nationalist, Apartheid state or freedom, justice and equality for all regardless to race, religion or ethnicity?
Diana Buttu of IMEU also heralds the new era of apartheid and resistance:
Israel’s apartheid regime will be challenged in the same way that South Africa’s was- by holding Israel accountable through boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Ultimately, as in South Africa, the outcome will be the same: equality for all. And no one should have a problem with that.
Mitchell Plitnick is also grim:
it is difficult indeed to fathom how things can improve for Israel, let alone for the Palestinians. Indeed, based on what we saw today, any movement from the already terrible status quo is almost certain to make matters worse.
Aaron David Miller’s head must be exploding.