What's the Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution?

A deal to have the two nations living peacefully side-by-side has been elusive. CNN's Oren Liebermann explains why.

Posted: Sep 28, 2018 6:29 AM
Updated: Sep 28, 2018 6:29 AM

For the first time since taking office, President Donald Trump clearly and repeatedly endorsed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the United Nations General Assembly, Trump was asked whether his administration would abide by the two-state solution.

"I like the two-state solution. I like the two-state solution," Trump said.

Pressed again on the same point, Trump said, "You just heard me, right? OK."

"I like the 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. Now you may have a different feeling. I don't think so, but I think two-state solution works best."

Sitting only feet from Trump, Netanyahu stayed silent during the exchange. The Israeli leader has not endorsed a two-state solution since Trump took office -- and that wasn't about to change.

Similarly, when Trump said Israel "will have to do something that will be good for the other side," in exchange for Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the embassy, Netanyahu said not a word.

It's the second time Trump has said Israel will have to give something up for the embassy move, though he has not offered details as to what that may be.

At a press conference later in the day, Trump said once again that he supports a two-state solution, but added: I think the two-state [solution] will happen, I think it's one way more difficult because it's a real estate deal, because you need meets and bounds and you need lots of carve outs and lots of everything."

He added a second slight hedge.

"Now bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state -- that's OK with me. If they want two states, that's OK with me. I'm happy if they're happy," he said.

Trump's sudden endorsement of a two-state solution -- the international consensus on the only possible end to the conflict and US policy for decades -- made front-page headlines in Israel, with one daily newspaper calling it "The Surprise of Trump."

But does Trump's statement -- spontaneous though it may have been in response to a reporter's question -- mean anything?

Trump's Middle East peace plan is one of the best-kept and most-anticipated secrets in Washington. It's the "ultimate deal," as Trump has called it in his approach to one of the most intractable conflicts in the world.

Despite all the critics who have said Trump has no shot at securing peace, he has been supremely confident in his team's ability to put forward a successful proposal.

But from the beginning, Trump has offered only ambiguous statements about his vision for a peace plan and a solution to the decades-old conflict.

When Netanyahu first visited the Trump White House in February 2017, Trump said of a peace plan: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like."

Trump's apparently casual comments dumped decades of US foreign policy and rejected the international consensus on the only possible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

His comments prompted UN Secretary-General Antontio Guterres to say, "There is no Plan B to the situation between Palestinians and Israelis but a two-state solution and that everything must be done to preserve that possibility."

Now, Trump's updated answer at the UN General Assembly may have added some clarity to his plan. But it hasn't shifted the position of the Israelis or Palestinians.

Netanyahu's right-wing coalition isn't built to handle negotiations with the Palestinians or concessions in a peace process. His education minister and head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, said on social media: "The American President is a true friend of Israel. Together with this, it's important to say that as long as the Jewish Home is in the government there will not be a Palestinian state established."

One of Netanyahu's closest allies in his party, Tzachi Hanegbi, said on Israel Army Radio on Thursday morning that "There will not be a state in the classic form," suggesting a relationship more akin to the United States and its territory, Puerto Rico.

In a briefing to reporters after meeting with Trump, Netanyahu demurred from a two-state solution once again, according to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. "Everyone defines the term 'state' differently," Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Trump's policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has vacillated between pro-Israel and very pro-Israel. Breaking with decades of US foreign policy, he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem and firmly backed Israel at the United Nations.

On top of that, he cut more than $500 million in aid to the Palestinians and UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinians, revoked the visas of the Palestinian representative to the US and his family, and closed the PLO office in Washington.

Trump is equally loved by Israelis and loathed by Palestinians.

And all of this makes his sudden endorsement of a two-state solution that much more surprising.

The Palestinian Authority cut ties with the Trump administration months ago when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But the American president said he "100%" expects Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table. "They're absolutely coming back to the table. And they want to come back to the table."

Trump's confidence hasn't shifted the Palestinian position at all.

On the sidelines of the UNGA, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Malki accused the Trump administration of waging diplomatic war against the Palestinians.

"The current American administration has waged an open war against the Palestinian people. We did not look for any confrontation, to the contrary, we were looking for a dialogue and we were fully engaged in such dialogue during 2017, to find out that after all these efforts from outside four meetings with President Trump more than 40 meetings with his special peace envoys to discover that they have opted to open that war against the Palestinians."

Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO executive committee member, was more blunt, saying on Twitter, "'One-state/two-state/whatever' is not policy!" She accused Trump of "pandering to extremist Zionist evangelicals," donors, lobbyists, and Netanyahu himself.

Officials in the Trump administration have said their peace plan is almost finalized and Trump predicted the proposal would be put forward within two to four months.

Many Israelis expect an election in that time frame, adding another delay into the plan. But Trump's open endorsement of a two-state solution doesn't seem to have changed its chances of success.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
Lowndes6272144
Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
Bolivar4772129
Oktibbeha455897
Panola4445103
Pearl River4428141
Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
Pontotoc416972
Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
Lincoln3871109
Hancock372885
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329589
Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
Tippah284868
Prentiss275759
Marion266079
Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
Covington254780
Adams246082
Newton245161
George238147
Winston225981
Tishomingo222267
Jasper219748
Attala213473
Chickasaw205057
Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109128
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene91034
Choctaw58724
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