JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian officials slammed President Donald Trump for breaking from decades of U.S. policy supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One unnamed official told Israel Radio on Wednesday, after Trump at a joint White House news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “can live” with either a one- or two-state solution, said the president’s words were “the biggest disaster it was possible to hear from the American president.”
The official also said that no regional approach to the Arab-Israel conflict will be successful without a solution for the Palestinians.
The Trump administration had suggested in recent days that a two-state solution was not a necessary outcome of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. During the news conference, Trump did not commit to any particular solution.
“I like the one the two parties like,” Trump said in answer to a question about what solution he prefers. “I can live with either one.”
The Palestinian official told Israel Radio: “What’s this two state or one state? Why not five states already? This is worthless talk.”
He added that the Israeli prime minister is not the only player in the region and that Trump should also listen to the Palestinians’ opinion on the issue.
“If Trump would like to be in touch with us, we are here and not going anywhere,” he said.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the PLO, responded to Trump’s remarks in a statement.
“If the Trump administration rejects this policy it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad,” Ashrawi said. “Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy.”
Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi, deputy speaker of the Knesset, told CNN in an interview following the news conference that if a one-state solution gives Palestinians the vote, he will run for prime minister and win. He also said that a solution other than two states “could lead to violence.”
Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union coalition, called it “sad and shameful” to see Netanyahu “twisting and turning just to avoid the idea of separating from the Palestinians in the form of two states.”
“Every Israeli should be concerned tonight about the very concept of one state between the sea to the Jordan, which means no Jewish state. This is a very dangerous disaster and we will fight it in every way possible,” Herzog said.
Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, celebrated Trump’s backing away from a two-state solution.
“A new era. After 24 years, the Palestinian flag is lowered and the Israeli flag is put in its place,” Bennett wrote on his Hebrew-language Facebook page. On his English language page he posted:
“A new era.
No need for 3rd Palestinian state beyond Jordan & Gaza.
Big day for Israelis & reasonable Arabs.
Following the meeting, Netanyahu tweeted: “@realDonaldTrump, thanks very much for the warm welcome. Israel has no better friend than the US; the US has no better friend than Israel.”