WASHINGTON – A White House official said Friday “the president has made it clear he will support a two-state solution if both sides agree to it,” responding to a Haaretz question on the possible impact of incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton’s positions on the administration’s impending Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the hard-liner Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster as his top security adviser.
Bolton has expressed deep skepticism about the peace process over the years and recently said the Palestinians “don’t deserve” a state of their own, adding that the two-state solution, which was endorsed by previous U.S. administrations, was not a viable option.
Last week, The New York Times reported that the administration’s peace plan would not clearly endorse a two-state solution but would include potential steps for producing such an outcome.
In a separate conversation with Haaretz before Bolton’s appointment, a senior White House official pushed back against the notion that the administration was taking a one-sided approach to the conflict and was only taking into account the requests and considerations of the Israeli government.
“We said from the beginning, we’re not going to impose a deal,” the official said. “We’re looking for a realistic deal that will be sellable on both sides. If it’s only sellable on one side, what’s the point of all the effort?”
The White House has insisted that its plan will “benefit” both Israelis and Palestinians. The official made clear the administration also understood that both leaders needed to be able to sell the plan to the people for it to succeed.
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“It needs to be something that both sides can say – there are some things I don’t like about this, but it’s a realistic path,” the official said, adding that “as the president has said, both sides are going to have to make hard compromises.”
The official added that the administration was working closely with Arab leaders who are supportive of its peace effort. “The president has a very good relationship with key players in the Arab world. The Arabs didn’t like the Obama administration’s policies,” he said.
“Now, even if they didn’t like certain decisions, like the Jerusalem decision, they see that the president is a man of his word. We know that they’re essential, and that we’re not going to have a successful peace deal without their support – monetary, emotional and in other aspects.”
The administration’s peace plan is close to being finalized, but there is still no clear time line for its release. The administration is examining different factors that could influence the time of the release, from the political situation in Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the wider security situation in the region.