Published: Sat, February 25, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Trump reiterates neutrality on two-state solution, but says he 'likes' it

Except there's no real shift in USA policy, only an endorsement of a foreign policy principle even more important than the concept of a two-state agreement: the idea that any solution must be reached through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and not imposed by any outside authority. Speaking on behalf of Malta's presidency of the EU Council, Minister Ian Borg reiterated the EU's commitment to a two-state solution, namely Israel and Palestine existing side by side as separate states.

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like". Netanyahu, a master at communication and deft as always in reframing the issue away from its real core elements, dismissed the fixation on the two-state solution "label" and said he was more concerned with substance.

"Prime minister, you are so welcome here in Australia", he said to Netanyahu.

But that's an overly simplistic interpretation of a deeply complex situation.

"We want to see Israel safe and secure of its borders; we support the rights of the Palestinians people to have their own state", the opposition leader said.

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An earlier report by Israel's Ha'aretz blamed Netanyahu for the failure of the diplomatic initiative and also claimed that the meeting was launched by then-American Secretary of State John Kerry. It is important to keep in mind, however, that Trump was only referring to new settlement building and not existing settlements in the occupied West Bank, which now number 130, are populated by 400,000 settlers, and along with their regional councils, constitute nearly 40 percent of the West Bank.

Delegation chair Neoklis Sylikiotis, a Cypriot member of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group, described Israel's recent decision to build 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and to retroactively legalize thousands of illegal settlements as "a new violation of the rights of Palestinians to self-determination".

The third issue was one that the leaders did not explicitly spell out but dropped hints about, using phrases such as "new concept" and "bigger deal" with "newfound allies".

The peace talks between Israel and Palestine have been stalled since April 2014. But there are options other than the annexation of the West Bank into Israel, the creation of a binational (that is, non-Jewish) state, and the establishment of side-by-side, separate nations along a modified Green Line.

Australia has reaffirmed its support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but in a joint communique from Melbourne, Israel refrained from doing so, the The Times of Israel reported on Thursday.

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