Palestinians: U.S. Official's Two-state Remark Could Mean 'Dangerous Shift' in Policy

Ramallah response to White House official who said Trump seeks Mideast peace but isn’t insistent on two-state solution: 'If true, this is an immediate success for Netanyahu.'

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.Credit: POOL/REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the statement made by a White House official according to which U.S. President Donald Trump seeks Middle East peace but isn’t insistent on a two-state solution, constitutes a "dangerous shift" in the American position on the conflict.

"If the statements attributed to a senior White House official are true, then this is an immediate success for Netanyahu, even before he meets with President Trump," the ministry said a few hours before Netanyahu's meeting with Trump.

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On Tuesday, a day before a Washington meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump, a White House official said that "It's not for us to impose that vision." The official also said that the term "two-state solution" has not been particularly well defined. 

The official added that a two-state solution that doesn't achieve peace is unwanted. The goal is to achieve peace, whether through the two-state solution – if that's what both sides wish - or through another solution, the official said. "If that's what the parties want, we're going to help them," he said, adding: "We're not going to dictate what the terms of peace will be." 

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry expressed its hopes that the statement was only an untrustworthy leak, and that the White House will officially clarify its position supporting a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

"In the face of the fear of deterioration of the U.S. with such policy, the Palestinians will act to establish a wide international front to safeguard the two-state solution," the ministry said.

The ministry said that if the American position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had indeed changed, it might affect other countries in their attitude to the issue. However, it clarified that the Palestinians plan to act in the international community to preserve the two-state solution as the only solution to the conflict.

"We understand very well that there are forces in Israel, especially in the right-wing fascist coalition, that wish to destroy all chances for a two-state solution, and that those same forces are trying to influence decisions in the White House," the Palestinian ministry said.

The Palestinian leadership, the ministry said, was ready to cooperate and promote any framework that would bring to an agreement based on the decisions of the international community and to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel on the 1967 borders.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi also condemned the White House official's statement, saying that "this is an irresponsible statement that doesn’t serve peace." Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is scheduled to hold a press conference on the matter.

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