Trump: Two-state Solution Will Be 'Like a Real Estate Deal'

In a press conference hours after meeting with 'nice' Netanyahu, Trump says 'I think we'll get the deal,' but notes: 'I’m OK with one-state, two-states, whatever'

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2018.
Carlo Allegri/Reuters

WASHINGTON - A two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be “like a real estate deal,” President Donald Trump said in a press conference on Wednesday evening. Speaking in New York just hours after a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, during which he expressed his support for a two-state solution, Trump repeated his preference for two states, adding that “I think it will happen. I think we’ll get a deal.” He also said that Netanyahu was “very nice” to him during their meeting. 

Trump said that two states was “more likely” to happen than any other solution, but clarified that “as long as they’re both happy, I’m OK with one state, two states, whatever they want.” This statement is similar to things Trump has said in the past. He also said that his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who is leading the American team in charge of Middle East negotiations, “loves Israel” but nevertheless, will be “very fair to the Palestinians” if negotiations resume. 

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Trump later repeated, “I think the two states will happen. I think we’re going to go down the two-states road.” He also said that in his meetings with Arab leaders, he heard from all of them that Israeli-Palestinian peace is important for reaching a broader peace in the Middle East.

Trump used most of the press conference to attack the Democratic Party and the women who have accused his Supreme Court nominee, Bret Kavanaugh, of sexual harassment. He called the accusations against the judge “a con job” and said that if he revoked Kavanaugh’s nomination and nominated a woman instead, she could also be accused of sexual harassment. Trump also said that China respects his “very large brain,” but at the same time, is trying to help the Democrats win control of Congress. 

Trump added that he thinks “if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with” his support for a two-state solution, but “nobody wanted to say it. It is a big thing to put it out.”

Earlier Wednesday, after Trump and Netanyahu met, Trump for the first time expressed public and explicit support of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I like two-state solution. Yeah. That's what I think… that's what I think works best," the U.S. president said at a joint press conference. After months of claiming a "deal of the century," Trump assessed that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table, "100 percent."

For Netanyahu, this is the first time he will be forced to explicitly address the idea of a possible Palestinian state since his "Bar Ilan" foreign policy speech in 2009. When asked by Haaretz whether a Palestinian "state minus," as he defined it, would become a reality during his term, Netanyahu said "I suggest you wait and see. It is important to set what is inadmissible to us: Israel will not relinquish security control west of Jordan. This will not happen so long as I am prime minister and I think the Americans understand that."

Full transcript of Trump's remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

Trump: Well I’d love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. You know, my whole life I was told that’s the toughest deal. And I disagree, I think health care is probably tougher, OK, you want to know the truth.

But it is tough, but we’re going to take care of that too. That’s going to get taken care of. We’ve already taken care of a lot of it. But the whole — my life I’ve always heard the deal between, as you know, Israel and the Palestinians, that’s like the toughest deal.

Every possible thing is tough about that. I think we’re going to make a deal. I think we’re going to make a deal. So at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of respect for.

A man who’s been extremely nice to me, very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which by the way we got open in four months for less than $500,000 and the budget was over a billion dollars.

So we saved let’s say a billion dollars, that’s not so bad. And it’s open and it’s beautiful by the way, Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones. I will tell you the question somebody said today well this is the first news conference in a long time.

I said what do you mean? I did like five today. Every time I sit I take a lot of questions from people that are screaming like maniacs in the back of the room, meaning reporters. And one of the reporters, I won’t say that it was John Roberts that said that, our issues (ph).

But one of the — it was, but that’s OK, don’t feel guilty John. But one of the reporters that was screaming asked about the one state two state, and I said I think the two state will happen, I think it’s one way more difficult because it’s a real estate deal, because you need meets and bounds and you need lots of carve outs and lots of everything.

It’s actually a little tougher deal, but another way it works better because you have people governing themselves and — so they asked me about that. I said well I think the two state will happen, I think we’re going to go down the two state road.

And I’m glad I got it out and Jared, who’s so involved, he loves Israel. He loves Israel. But he’s also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy, two groups of people to be happy.

Everybody’s got to be happy and that’s why it’s so tough, because there’s been so much hatred and anger for so many years, that’s what probably the number one ingredient of toughness is.

TRUMP: But they asked me, I said I think it’s going to be a two state. And you know what I did today? By saying that, I put it out there. And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that.

But nobody wanted to say it. It’s a big thing to put it out, it’s a very big thing to put it out. Now bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state — that’s OK with me. If they want two states, that’s OK with me. I’m happy if they’re happy. I’m a facilitator, I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore.

When we had — in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history. Many of you were there, probably all of you were there. It’s one of the most beautiful two days — that and China — two of the most incredible events I’ve ever seen, saw yet — I’ve never seen anything like it.

And we had, I believe 58 Muslim countries — their leaders, the kings, the Emirs, the absolute leaders from every — there was nobody in second place, they were the leaders of the whole thing.

And unbeknownst to anybody else people would come up to me individual — it wasn’t a setup, they’d come up to me and say, “sir, you can’t have peace in the Middle East without peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” I said why, what difference — why does that matter so much?

They said, “it just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis –” so I heard that from one, the King of Saudi Arabia whose a great guy, King Salman. And then, somebody else came up and he wasn’t told, “oh go up and say it,” I know where they’re coming from.

And I must have had 12 leaders say it, and they just said it. And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians for the Middle East is a very important thing and we’re trying very hard to get it. I think probably two state is more likely, but you know, if they do a single, if they do a double — I’m OK with it if they’re both happy. If they’re both happy, I’m OK with either. I think the two state is more likely.