Donald Trump's flip-flop on two-state solution won't resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict

President Donald Trump is taking a twin-track approach on one of his thorniest foreign policy issues, seesaw...

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 6:47 AM
Updated: Oct 1, 2018 6:47 AM

President Donald Trump is taking a twin-track approach on one of his thorniest foreign policy issues, seesawing on his position on long-term peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

When asked at a press conference this week during the UN General Assembly about what sort of peace deal he wants, a one-state or two-state deal where both Palestinians and Israelis have their own separate states, he equivocated.

Conflicts and wars

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Embassies and consulates

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

International relations

International relations and national security

Israel

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Palestinian Territory

Political Figures - US

State departments and diplomatic services

Unrest, conflicts and war

US federal government

White House

Government organizations - Intl

Mahmoud Abbas

North America

Political Figures - Intl

The Americas

United Nations

United States

"You know what? If they do a single, if they do a double, I'm OK with it if they're both happy. If they're both happy, I'm OK with either. I think the two-state is more likely."

He has said words to this effect before, yet hours earlier he said he preferred the two-state solution.

"I like two-state solution. I like two-state solution," Trump said. "That's what I think works best. I don't even have to speak to anybody, that's my feeling."

It's not an insignificant flip-flop, given that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN this week the two-state solution in the common understanding -- a completely independent Palestinian state -- is most definitely not on his radar.

"What I'd like to see is that the Palestinians will have all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten us," Netanyahu said.

Trump's "single or double" analogy creates the impression a deal is as simple as walking into a bar and ordering up whatever you fancy on the spur of the moment. It is anything but.

For the past few decades US presidents have been trying to coax, cajole and sometimes corner both sides into compromise with little lasting success.

Trump's tactic in this, as in much else, has been different. He did what many presidents thought about but never acted on: late last year he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv, much to the delight of most Israelis.

The world waited for his next step, expecting him to leverage that move and kick-start talks.

Early this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he laid out that next step: threatening financial incentives for Palestinians if they did not engage in peace talks.

"We give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands, that money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said at a press conference.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has turned his back on Trump's tactic, and refused to engage publicly with senior US officials.

Trump, as he often does, followed through on his word, taking money -- in the form of US aid funding and contributions to the UN organization responsible for Palestinian refugees -- off the table.

Back when he was newly elected, Trump had sounded confident he could break the impasse, but absent a new initiative it appears his transactional approach has stalled, although this week he said he hoped to put a new peace plan forward in the next two to four months.

Now at an apparent impasse, Abbas has decided to take Trump, or at least the United States, to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

A lawsuit filed Friday contends "[t]he relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel to ... Jerusalem constitutes a breach of the Vienna Convention."

The Convention says that embassies must be located on the territory of the host state.

Palestinians are expected to argue that Jerusalem's status has never been fully resolved by the international community since the United Nations decided in 1947 the city should stand apart from neighboring states: a corpus separatum, or 'separate body.'

If the ICJ decides this argument carries weight, then it could decide that no country should be locating its Israel embassy in Jerusalem.

While the case could bring to light some interesting legal debate, it would be a surprise if it had any immediate impact on the facts on the ground.

Abbas' longer-term tactic will likely be to outlast Trump, and hope for something better at the White House in 2020.

In the meantime, he can fall back on an old Palestinian standard of rallying international sympathy and support, and try to drive a wedge between the US and other countries, which under a Trump presidency may get easier.

Leader after leader at the UNGA, including Trump's allies like President Emmanuel Macron of France and Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, made oblique and direct criticism of Trump's isolationism.

Abbas' challenge is to leverage that divide into a deal both Palestinians and Israelis can live with.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67649

Reported Deaths: 1912
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5613118
DeSoto365831
Harrison252036
Madison242266
Rankin228334
Jackson227642
Jones189958
Forrest180656
Washington166341
Lee146241
Lauderdale141292
Neshoba128692
Lamar122014
Oktibbeha112239
Bolivar111334
Warren109333
Lowndes107737
Panola105913
Sunflower103925
Scott100320
Lafayette97316
Copiah95428
Pike93636
Leflore93363
Holmes89248
Grenada84721
Yazoo83112
Pontotoc8278
Lincoln81741
Monroe79655
Simpson79630
Leake78825
Wayne76721
Coahoma76013
Tate73429
Marshall6959
Marion67720
Union63616
Adams62325
Winston62016
Covington61213
George5815
Pearl River55039
Newton54211
Tallahatchie53110
Attala52225
Walthall50220
Chickasaw46219
Noxubee45711
Alcorn4285
Calhoun4189
Tishomingo4175
Prentiss41210
Claiborne40713
Smith40513
Clay39614
Hancock39014
Jasper3869
Tippah36613
Itawamba35910
Tunica3377
Clarke32726
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29311
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25012
Perry2367
Webster23412
Kemper23314
Amite2326
Jefferson Davis2316
Wilkinson21213
Stone1995
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1967
Benton1441
Choctaw1344
Franklin1272
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather