Top Trump Official Says U.S. 'Wants to See Palestinians in Their Own State'

National Security Adviser O'Brien says the White House is 'committed to a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine,' after harsh criticism from Palestinians over Trump's Mideast proposal and Israel-UAE deal

Noa Landau
Jack Khoury
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U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien speaks upon arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport,  August 31, 2020
U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien speaks upon arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport, August 31, 2020Credit: WAM/Reuters
Noa Landau
Jack Khoury

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said on Thursday the U.S. administration is "committed to a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine," in a rare remark by a top official under President Donald Trump, whose Middle East proposal and the latest Israel-UAE deal he helped broker came under harsh criticism by the Palestinians for effectively doing away with a future Palestinian state.

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In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, O'Brien added that "We want to see the Palestinians in their own state with their own government, hopefully a democratic government, and one that thrives economically alongside Israel.”

His remarks were also tweeted out by the National Security Council's official account.

NSC tweet on Robert O'BrienCredit: NSC twitter

Meanwhile, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have continued to voice dissatisfaction with Trump's plan. At a Thursday meeting between leaders of Palestinian factions, President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his opposition to the U.S. administration’s proposal. “The Trump plan doesn’t officer a state, but [rather] Swiss cheese without any defined borders.”

Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh added that: “Trump’s plan and annexation…were designed to destroy the Palestinian national cause.”

In 2017, Trump bucked American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by declining to endorse the two-state solution. Speaking alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said: "I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like. The two states look like it could be the easier of the two."

O'Brien on Monday attended an Israeli delegation in Abu Dhabi to finalize the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. 

The delegation was headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat, and was also attended by U.S. Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner.

Under the agreement, Israel agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank that it has been discussing annexing.

Although Trump has largely backed Israeli annexation of parts of the Jordan Valley, during his first press conference with Netanyahu in Washington on in February 2017, Trump declining to endorse the two-state solution. The president also called on the Israeli premier to restrain settlement construction and reiterated his intention to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as a wider agreement between Israel and the Arab world. 

The U.S. president stressed that he would like Israel to check settlement construction.

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