US President Donald Trump said yesterday there is a “good chance” at achieving peace between Israel and Palestine during his administration.
Trump’s latest comments on the issue were made prior to an hour-long consultation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, their first meeting since May, according to Haaretz. His statements expressed greater positivity than those made earlier this month when he doubted how successful upcoming negotiations would be.
“We are going to discuss peace between Israel and the Palestinians; it will be a fantastic achievement,” Trump declared yesterday.
“We are giving it absolute go – there is a good chance it could happen. Most people would say there is no chance whatsoever, but I think that with the ability of Bibi [Netanyahu] and the other side – I really think we have a chance.”
When questioned as to whether the peace deal would involve a two-state solution as demanded by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Trump only replied: “We are talking about it a lot.”
Netanyahu thanked Trump for their role as mediator in the peace process and for the ongoing diplomatic support the US gives Israel, particularly at the UN.
“I want to say that under your leadership the alliance between America and Israel has never been stronger, never been deeper.”
Netanyahu also emphasised that peace was necessary not only with the Palestinians, but with other Arab states. His sentiment was reciprocated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who Netanyahu met later in the day in their first public meeting, during which the Egyptian leader blessed the peace negotiations and expressed his desire to support regional efforts to achieve stability.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process stalled once again this year after 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. The plan was further undermined a week later, when leaked footage of the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has been charged with spearheading the peace process, revealed him expressing doubt as to whether there was any solution to the conflict at all.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmood Abbas also confessed last month that he did not understand Trump’s peace plan, despite having met US envoys over 20 times to discuss the matter.
As US envoys to the Middle East prepared to meet Palestinian and Israeli officials at the end of last month to restart negotiations, the US State Department announced that committing to a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict would make the US a biased intermediary.
Last week, the Trump administration also announced its backing for a bill that would suspend US aid to the PA in protest of the support payments the group makes to former Israeli prisoners and their families. The PA has condemned the plan as violating Palestinians’ human rights.
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 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.