US President Donald Trump has said that Israel’s Prime Minister “in a few years will be called Mohammed” if a one-state policy prevails in Israel-Palestine.
Trump allegedly made the comments to Jordan’s King Abdullah while the latter visited the White House in late June. King Abdullah allegedly told Trump that “many young Palestinians don’t want the two-state solution anymore, but would rather live together with the Israelis in one state with equal rights for all. The result will be that Israel will lose its Jewish character”. In response, Trump then replied, “what you say makes sense. [In a one-state scenario,] the prime minister of Israel in a few years will be called Mohammed.”
The pair also discussed Trump’s pending Middle East peace plan dubbed the “deal of the century”. The details of the deal have not yet been made public, nor it seems have they been discussed with regional leaders. During the meeting King Abdullah reportedly stressed that “in order for the peace plan to be acceptable, it must be presented first to the relevant European and Arab states in order to get their input,” but complained that this “still hasn’t happened”. King Abdullah also cautioned that now was not the right time to present a deal, to which Trump replied “if my administration can’t reach a deal, no administration will be able to”, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Though the meeting took place in late June, the comments have only emerged this weekend and were first reported by Israel’s Channel 10. The channel said its report “had been confirmed by an Israeli and a former US official who had both been briefed on the White House meeting,” the Times of Israel (ToI) reported. A Channel 10 reporter also cited unnamed French diplomats as his source in an article for US news website Axios. Neither the White House nor the Jordanian Embassy in Washington have agreed to comment on the allegations, ToI added.
Although the comments were seemingly said in jest, Trump was likely referring to the fear of demographic balance that preoccupies the Israeli state. Within Green Line Israel, 6.5 million of its 8.8 million population are Jewish, representing about 75 per cent. The other 20 per cent consist of Palestinian citizens of Israel, Druze and other minority communities. If a one-state solution were pursued, which would see the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel combined into one “state of all its citizens”, a further 4.8 million Palestinians would need to be factored into such statistics. Combined with the already existing 2.3 million non-Jewish Israelis, any such state would not yield a Jewish majority. High Palestinian and declining Jewish birth rates would also exacerbate this phenomenon in the near future.
Israel’s attempts to entrench the Jewish character of the State have come under scrutiny in light of the controversial nation-state law passed in July. The law, which officially declares Israel a Jewish state and strips Arabic of its status as a national language, has drawn the ire of Israel’s minorities, particularly the Druze community who have for decades remained loyal to the State and undertaken military service in the army. The move was also denounced as apartheid by both critics and former supporters of Israel.