Donald Trump has suggested he is open to the idea of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, breaking with two-decades of US commitment to an eventual two-state solution.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu, the US President said he was “looking at two states and one state”, and was “happy with the one both parties like”, to laughs from reporters.
This is the 70-year-old’s statement on Israel in full:
Thank you very much. Thank you. Today I have the honour of welcoming my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to the White House. With this visit, the United States again reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel. The partnership between our two countries built on our shared values has advanced the cause of human freedom, dignity and peace. These are the building blocks of democracy.
The state of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression. I can think of no other state that's gone through what they've gone, and of survival in the face of genocide. We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured.
Your perseverance in the face of hostility, your open democracy in the face of violence, and your success in the face of tall odds is truly inspirational. The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran's nuclear ambitions, which I've talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I've ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing - I mean ever - a nuclear weapon.
Our security assistance to Israel is currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats of which there are unfortunately many. Both of our countries will continue and grow. We have a long history of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against those who do not value human life. America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.
This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations - just treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly - or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel. Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability. That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States will encourage a peace and, really, a great peace deal. We'll be working on it very, very diligently. Very important to me also -- something we want to do. But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement. We'll be beside them; we'll be working with them.
As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right?
I want the Israeli people to know that the United States stands with Israel in the struggle against terrorism. As you know, Mr Prime Minister, our two nations will always condemn terrorist acts. Peace requires nations to uphold the dignity of human life and to be a voice for all of those who are endangered and forgotten.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
1/8 Trump and the media
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing
2/8 Trump and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Union leaders applaud US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington DC
3/8 Trump and the Mexico wall
People protest against US President Donald Trump's inauguration next to a fake wall with a Mexican national flag and a dummy representing him in Mexico City
4/8 Trump and the Mexico wall
A US Border Patrol vehicle sits waiting for illegal immigrants at a fence opening near the US-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. The number of incoming immigrants has surged ahead of the upcoming Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border
5/8 Trump and abortion
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House
6/8 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York. US President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation
7/8 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
US actress and political activist Jane Fonda attends a rally with opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York
8/8 Trump and 'Obamacare'
Nancy Pelosi who is the minority leader of the House of Representatives speaks beside House Democrats at an event to protect the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles, California. The Republican-led US Senate has launched their much-anticipated effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act by passing a budget blueprint which would allow them to begin rolling back the health care reforms
Those are the ideals to which we all, and will always, aspire and commit. This will be the first of many productive meetings. And I, again, Mr Prime Minister, thank you very much for being with us today.
Mr Prime Minister, thank you.
Responding to a question on Iran and the issue of Israeli settlements, Mr Trump said:
Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media - as I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly. I think, in addition to that, from intelligence - papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It’s criminal actions, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time - before me. But now it’s really going on, and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.
I think it’s very, very unfair what’s happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally - I stress that - illegally leaked. Very, very unfair.
As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out. But I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made. I know that every President would like to. Most of them have not started until late because they never thought it was possible. And it wasn’t possible because they didn't do it.
But Bibi and I have known each other a long time - a smart man, great negotiator. And I think we're going to make a deal. It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand. That's a possibility. So let’s see what we do.
Responding to questions about the notion of a two-state solution and whether the US embassy could be moved to Jerusalem, Mr Trump said:
So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like [laughter]. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.
I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians - if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.
As far as the embassy moving to Jerusalem, I’d love to see that happen. We're looking at it very, very strongly. We're looking at it with great care - great care, believe me. And we’ll see what happens. Okay?
Responding to comments from Mr Netanyahu about a possible “regional approach” involving “our newfound Arab partners” to the conflict, Mr Trump said:
And we have been discussing that, and it is something that is very different, hasn't been discussed before. And it's actually a much bigger deal, a much more important deal, in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory. So I didn't know you were going to be mentioning that, but that's - now that you did, I think it's a terrific thing and I think we have some pretty good cooperation from people that in the past would never, ever have even thought about doing this. So we'll see how that works out.
On a question about more “specific compromises” the President had in mind to help broker a peace deal, Mr Trump said:
It's actually an interesting question. I think that the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard, it's hard to do. They're going to have to show the fact that they really want to make a deal. I think our new concept that we've been discussing actually for a while is something that allows them to show more flexibility than they have in the past because you have a lot bigger canvas to play with. And I think they'll do that.
I think they very much would like to make a deal or I wouldn't be happy and I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be as optimistic as I am. I really think they -- I can tell you from the standpoint of Bibi and from the standpoint of Israel, I really believe they want to make a deal and they'd like to see the big deal.
I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they're taught from a very young age. They're taught tremendous hate. I've seen what they're taught. And you can talk about flexibility there too, but it starts at a very young age and it starts in the school room. And they have to acknowledge Israel -- they're going to have to do that. There's no way a deal can be made if they're not ready to acknowledge a very, very great and important country. And I think they're going to be willing to do that also. But now I also believe we're going to have, Katie, other players at a very high level, and I think it might make it easier on both the Palestinians and Israel to get something done.
Okay? Thank you. Very interesting question. Thank you.
Mr Trump was finally asked for his response to alleged rising anti-Semitism across the US since his election, and accusations his administration was “playing with xenophobia”. He said:
Well, I just want to say that we are very honoured by the victory that we had - 306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there.
I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on, because lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time.
I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided. And, hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And, you know, it was something that was very important to me.
As far as people - Jewish people - so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. Okay? Thank you.