Committing to a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict would make the US a biased intermediary, the US State Department announced yesterday. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert made this point during a press briefing at the White House, while insisting that US President Donald Trump has made a peace agreement a top priority.
“We are not going to state what the outcome has to be,” Nauert explained. “It has to be workable to both sides. That’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it.”
The comments came as an American delegation headed by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner arrived in Tel Aviv last night to resume negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Palestinian Authority. The envoys are scheduled to meet Israeli lawmakers in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in Ramallah later this week.
Last month, the US revealed its peace “deal of the century” which, to the dismay of the Palestinians, ruled out the two-state solution as an answer to the conflict, instead giving Jordan and Egypt control of the West Bank and Gaza respectively. However, the plan was undermined a week later, when leaked footage revealed Kushner expressing doubt as to whether there was any solution to the conflict at all.
Despite this, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli parliamentarians last Sunday that the US had expressed support for Palestinian demands behind closed doors: “Every time they [US envoys] repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained. They said they would consider it but then they didn’t get back to me.”
Other Arab states which met the US delegation this week also discussed efforts for reaching a peace deal. Jordan’s King Abdullah reiterated to Kushner on Tuesday that a two-state solution was the only solution to the conflict, encouraging the US to endorse the by now traditional end goal. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman spoke with American negotiators on ways of reaching “a real and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” reported Saudi state news agency SPA.
However, the Trump Administration’s reluctance to go against Israel is thought to have been bolstered by the strong Zionist stance of many of his closest officials. Kushner, who has been charged with spearheading the peace process, is a family friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, whose daughter moved permanently to Jerusalem last week, has long opposed a Palestinian state. Former US Chief Strategist Steve Bannon also lobbied for officials to adopt a tougher stance towards the PA and for the US embassy to be moved to Jerusalem.