US President Donald Trump yesterday expressed support for a two-state solution to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict, prompting criticism from Israeli politicians and scepticism from Palestinian officials.
Speaking at a joint press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump explicitly endorsed the two-state solution for the first time since entering office.
"I like two-state solution. Yeah. That's what I think… that's what I think works best. I don't even have to speak to anybody, that's my feeling… I think two-state solution works best," he told reporters, whilst Netanyahu remained silent.
Yet hours later at another news conference, Trump seemed keen to clarify his earlier remarks by adding that a one-state solution was still on the table.
"Bottom line: If the Israelis and Palestinians want one state, that's okay with me," he said. "If they want two states, that's okay with me. I'm happy, if they're happy."
"I'm a facilitator. I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don't get killed anymore," he concluded.
He also promised that the long-awaited peace plan being managed by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner would be "very fair".
"He loves Israel but he's also going to be very fair with the Palestinians," Trump claimed during the 84-minute long press conference, adding that the plan was due to be released in the next three or four months.
Trump's statements were met with strong resistance by politicians in Israel; Jewish Home party head and Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened yesterday that he would leave the government if a Palestinian state is created. MK Moti Yogev added that Israel would extend its sovereignty over the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
"There had been no Palestinian state and there will never be a Palestinian state. Israel will remain Jewish," he stated.
Netanyahu had later told reporters that he does not mind the "label" of two states, on the condition that Israel maintains full control over the security environment.
Meanwhile, Palestinian officials expressed doubt as to whether the President was sincere in his comments.
The Trump Administration's "words go against their actions and their action is absolutely clear [and] is destroying the possibility of the two-state solution," expelled Palestinian envoy to the US Husam Zomlot told reporters.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki also reiterated last night that the PA maintains that "the current American administration has waged an open war against the Palestinian people."
Last night, the PA held a meeting on the side lines of the General Assembly with over 40 international envoys, foreign ministers and Security Council diplomats, to discuss prospects for peace and garner support against the US peace plan. Prior to Trump's latest comments, the deal was not thought to include a Palestinian state.
"This meeting's main goal was to protect the two-state solution that allows the Palestinians to create their independent state that is viable and continuous geographically, on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital," Al-Maliki said.