Diplomacy

In Meeting with Netanyahu, Trump Endorses Israel’s Right to Self-Defense, Two-State Solution

In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings, United States President Donald Trump endorsed both Israel’s right to self-defense, and a two-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

Though Trump had previously expressed skepticism towards a two-state solution, on Wednesday he said to Netanyahu that “I think that’s what works best.” The U.S. president also expressed his hope that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians could be completed during his first term and that his team would unveil its long-awaited peace plan in two to four months.

“I want a plan that’s solid, understood by both sides, really semi-agreed by both sides before we present,” Trump said. He repeatedly called on the Palestinians, who are boycotting the administration’s efforts, to return to the negotiating table.

Washington responded to the Palestinian boycott by slashing aid to the Palestinian Authority and to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA. “We were paying them $500 million a year. Now we pay nothing a year. For years we were abused by the Palestinian leadership,” Trump said. “That’s stopped. [The money] will come back. They will be coming back to the table, and they want to.”

Trump said that his administration was “with Israel one hundred percent,” and defended Israel’s actions taken in self-defense, saying, “they have no choice but to be aggressive– it’s a very difficult part of the world.”

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Trump was accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. The last two are in charge of developing the administration’s Middle East peace plan.

Netanyahu offered praise to Trump for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and thanked the president for backing up his “strong words” regarding Iran with “strong actions.”

Specifically, the prime minister praised the president for re-imposing sanctions on Iran, which “has cut the cash machine of Iran and its campaign of carnage and conquest of the Middle East.” For this, he said, “we who live in the Middle East, Israelis and Arabs, who are subject to this Iranian danger, want to thank you especially.”

Netanyahu also said, “I think the US-Israel alliance has never been stronger,” and praised Trump for his efforts to strengthen it.

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who had earlier criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to negotiate with Israel, praised Trump for embracing the two-state solution.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / Twitter ]