While a White House delegation meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the US State Department indicated a significant shift away from the anti-Israel two-state solution, admitting that it was “biased”.
In a press conference on Wednesday, State Department’s spokesman Heather Nauert deftly sidestepped questions about a two-state solution which the department has committed to in the past.
When asked, “Why are you so loath to…recommit yourself to the two-state solution?”, Nauert’s answer was surprising.
“The President has made it clear that that is one of his top national security issues – one of his top priorities, I should say more correctly,” Nauert said in response. “We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and that both sides find sustainable. Okay? We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for both of them.”
When pressed, Nauert made an unscripted comment, implying that the two-state solution goes counter to Israeli interests.
“We are not going to state what the outcome has to be,” Nauert said. “It has to be workable to both sides, and I think, really, that’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it.”
This statement has practical significance, coming while a White House delegation is in Israel working on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security adviser, are touring the region this week. They met with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday and are scheduled to meet with PA leadership.
The State Department policy appears to be a reflection of a general policy of the administration. Before meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Kushner said that the president “is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in the area.”
This is consistent with statements made by President Trump in the past. During a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, President Trump said in a press conference,”I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.” in marked contrast to the administration of President Barack Obama which insisted that creating additional Palestinian entities within Israeli territory was the only solution to Palestinian hostility.
This policy is in marked contrast to the administration of President Barack Obama which insisted that creating additional Palestinian entities within Israeli territory was the only solution to Palestinian hostility.
The Palestinians were clearly upset about this apparent change in policy. Wafa News, the official news agency of the formerly terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization, reported that PLO Vice Chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul said the White House negotiators are “adopting Israeli claims and then coming to us to discuss them.”
Aloul said the White House should focus on making peace rather than discussing Palestinian prisoners’ salaries and incitement by Palestinian leaders.
This apparent change in policy earned criticism from J Street, a left-wing Jewish group. J Street president, Jeremy Ben-Ami released a statement on Thursday saying that Nauert “displayed dangerous ignorance about the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what it will take to end it.”
Echoing the PLO, Ben-Ami said, “There is no way to accomplish that goal without a two-state solution.”