TEL AVIV – Israel’s Minister of Education hailed a “new era” and the end of the idea of a Palestinian state following President Donald Trump’s remarks that a two-state solution may not be the only way to end the conflict with the Palestinians.
“New ideas,” Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett tweeted after Trump’s press briefing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “No need for 3rd Palestinian state beyond Jordan & Gaza. Big day for Israelis & reasonable Arabs. Congrats.”
Standing next to his Israeli counterpart, Trump said, “I’m looking at a two-state [solution] and one-state [solution] and I like the one that both parties like. … I can live with either one.”
Trump’s departure from the hardline stance the U.S. has maintained until now, in which the two-state solution was the only solution considered, was celebrated by a number of Likud ministers.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, “This is a very important day. … The positions expressed by the president indicate an understanding that the two-state solution is not the only way to achieve peace and the time has come to flip the equation and put pressure on the Palestinian side — the rejectionist side — and send a clear message that a price will be paid for peace rejectionism and hate and violence education.”
Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis said, “Today marked the end of the two-state solution. A dangerous and erroneous idea — the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel — is no more. President Trump understands that the two-state formula won’t bring peace to the Middle East and that other solutions must be found.”
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said, “The freeze era is over. The [construction] freeze in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) has ended. The freeze in U.S.-Israel ties has ended. Today in Washington a new diplomatic era began.”
However, voices from Israel’s left were dismayed at the meeting.
Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union party said, “It was sad and embarrassing to see Netanyahu twist about 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 Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, which means no Jewish state. This is a very dangerous disaster and we will fight it in every way possible.”
Meretz head Zehava Gal-On said, “It doesn’t matter what Trump says and it doesn’t matter what he doesn’t say — Israel’s interest is the two-state solution. There is no other solution … that would keep Israel Jewish and democratic. All other solutions would ensure an apartheid state that would only serve Netanyahu’s desire to preserve his coalition and stay in power.”
Zionist Union MK and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was less harsh in her assessment of the press conference, saying, “This is a president who talks about peace and it makes me happy that he uses the term ‘deal.’ He said this is important to him. He didn’t say do whatever you want.”