Trump Meets Netanyahu: I Think Two-state Solution Will Work Best

U.S. president for first time publicly supports two-state solution for Mideast conflict, says Israel will have to 'do something good' for Palestinians

Trump and Netanyahu meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2018.
\ CARLOS BARRIA/ REUTERS

NEW YORK - U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time expressed public and explicit support of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Speaking at a joint press conference after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said he believes that the two-state solution "will work best."

"I like two-state solution. Yeah. That's what I think… that's what I think works best. I don't even have to speak to anybody, that's my feeling... I think two-state solution works best," Trump said.

>> UPDATE: After Trump meeting, Netanyahu backs Palestinian state under Israeli security control

Trump meeting with Netanyahu at sidelines of UN General Assembly.

The details of the Middle East peace plan his administration has been working on would be revealed in two to three months, Trump noted, and assessed that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table, "100 percent." Trump said "Israel will have to do something good for the other side."

"I think the two states solution will work best," Trump said. Speaking of the peace deal, Trump said he wants to "get this in my first term," adding he has "other things to do in my second term. A lot of progress has been made, Israel and the Palestinians want to do something. We'll start moving pretty soon, quite rapidly."

Regarding Israel's ongoing crisis with Russia following the downing of a Russian military plane over Syria, Trump said he will talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the tensions "when appropriate."

As for Israel's actions in Syria, Trump said "We are very much in favor," adding that Israel has "no choice" but to be aggressive.

Last Monday, a Russian Illyushin intelligence plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft missile systems following an Israeli airstrike near Latakia. Russia blamed Israel for the incident, saying the Israel Air Force deliberately misled Moscow on its planned airstrikes and that Israeli fighter jets took cover behind the downed plane. Following the incident, Russia said it would give Syria advanced air defense missiles. The Israeli military published an inquiry of the incident, saying their fighter jets were in Israeli territory by the time the Illyushin was downed, and laid the blame on Syria's indiscriminate missile fire.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for his "strong words and strong actions against Iran at the General Assembly. Secondly for the extraordinary support for Israel in the UN."

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni welcomed Trump's remarks, saying that "The two things he said about Israel future – both the Unites States' firm stand for Israel's security and his support for a two-state solution."

Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted after the press conference that Trump "is a true friend of Israel," but added that as long as his party is part of the governing coalition, "a Palestinian state, which is a disaster for Israel, will not be established."

Netanyahu earlier met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and with Guatemala President Jimmy Morales following the meeting with Trump. Later, he is slated to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

During his speech at the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Trump reiterated that the U.S. is "committed to a future of peace in the Middle East, including between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim has been advanced, not harmed," adding that "America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years time and time again."

Netanyahu will also meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, as well as a number of world leaders, including Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Netanyahu is also expected to meet Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on the sidelines of the confab. Netanyahu and Sissi met at the sidelines of last year’s General Assembly, in their first public meeting since Sissi became president in 2014. In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the Egyptian leader expressed a desire to assist the efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in the region.

Sissi expressed his commitment to establishing a Palestinian state during his speech before the General Assembly on Tuesday, saying that the parameters of a resolution to the Palestinian issue are well-known and that "what is required is political will to resume negotiations and achieve a settlement in accordance with these parameters."

On Friday, the prime minister is scheduled to meet with Jewish community leaders in the city before returning to Israel on Saturday night.

Accompanying Netanyahu to the UN General Assembly are Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara. In response to a question by Haaretz, Kara’s office said he was expected to present Israel’s position on the new nation-state law “as a Druze cabinet minister” and to hold meetings on communications. Regev’s office said she had “a few meetings” scheduled in New York but did not provide additional details before press time.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi will also be in the city at the time of Netanyahu’s address; he flew to New York to attend a meeting of donors to the Palestinians as well as a meeting of foreign ministers convened by the UN secretary general on the topic of strengthening the peacekeeping forces.