Netanyahu & Trump: The End Of Two-State Solution For Palestine?

by
Sameera Ehteram
In case you didn’t know, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump have been chummy for quite some time.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump are two of a kind and almost too fond of each other

"President-elect Trump is a true friend of the State of Israel. We will work together to advance the security, stability and peace in our region. The strong connection between the United States and Israel is based on shared values, shared interests and a shared destiny," wrote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating Donald Trump on his win earlier this year.

"I'm certain that President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States, and bring it to new heights," he added.

Israel’s controversial far-right education minister, Naftali Bennett went as far as suggesting (dare we say, indicating?) that Trump’s election should signal the end of the two-state solution and aspirations for a Palestinian state.

“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Bennett said. “This is the position of the president-elect … The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

The Israeli government and opposition's enthusiasm stems, perhaps, most likely from Donald Trump's campaign promise to be Israel’s “closest friend,” overturn decades of U.S. foreign policy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move the American  embassy from Tel Aviv and take a different approach to Israel’s settlement-building in the occupied territories — long condemned by U.S. governments.

Trump

Of course, there is also the Iran nuclear deal (fiercely opposed by Israel) as well and Trump’s promise to scrap the “the stupidest deal of all time.”

“It was a campaign promise and there is every intention to keep it,” confirmed David Friedman, one of Trump’s advisers on Israel and the Middle East and his choice as the next ambassador to Israel. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.”

Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. There are now 350,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and 250,000 in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian population of the West Bank is about 2.8 million, while around 300,000 live in East Jerusalem.

Under a Trump presidency, Israeli analysts expect there to be less pressure from the United States to halt settlement building, meaning the settler population will grow unchecked, pushing the faint possibility of a two-state solution — the aim of diplomacy for decades — further out of reach.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu and Trump have been on friendly terms after all.

So it wasn’t surprising to see him getting along really well with Netanyahu, who came to the United States to meet both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in September 2016.

During the 90-minute-long discussion behind closed doors at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Trump and Netanyahu talked about matters like "military assistance, security and regional stability” – and, of course, walls.

The two discussed “at length” Israel’s “successful” experience in building a 26-foot-long (nearly 8 meters)border fence to keep away "terrorists".

It was during this meeting that Donald Trump promised Netanyahu that under his administration, the United States would "recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel."

Read More: Trump, A Pathological Liar, Meets Netanyahu, Another Pathological Liar

But Palestine's hopes bank on the two-state solution.

“We are ready to deal with the elected president on the basis of a two-state solution and to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” said presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina.

However, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, "The Palestinian people hold no hope that the change of American president will mean a change in policy towards the Palestinian cause. That policy is constant and biased in favor of Israel's occupation."

George Jackman, chairman of the Ramallah-based Institution for Democratic Studies, is also skeptical, "We shouldn't expect that slogans announced by Trump during his electoral campaign will remain unchanged."

"What distinguishes Trump is that no one knows what policies he may embrace because there are no detailed plans."

"Trump's win is an evil prophecy for Palestinian politics," feared Adnan Abu Amer, a political scientist based in Gaza.

"Trump may seek to marginalize the Palestinian-Israeli file and activate other files such as Syria, Iran and Iraq. That is what Israel wants and what the Palestinians fear."

 

Read More: How Israel Has Been Driving Palestinians Out Of Their Homes
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