Thursday, 23 March, 2017

Few alternatives to Palestinian state — AP Analysis

First Lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu First Lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu
Melinda Barton | 17 February, 2017, 01:59

In an ideal world, those might be the final points of a peace negotiation.

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint news conference at the White House, Feb. 15.

Following the meeting, the White House said that the two leaders "discussed the issue of Israeli settlement construction", and "agreed to continue those discussions and to work out an approach that is consistent with the goal of advancing peace and security". "But at the same time I think that now people are going to start to wake up and maybe realize that there are other alternatives out there". "And we'll see what happens". But such a solution would make Israeli Jews a minority in their own homeland, and would require a re-thinking of the importance of the state's Jewish character. Thrall says, "neither pursuing the policies urged by the right or a making a grand deal for a two-state solution". On Wednesday, Trump blamed Flynn's departure on "fake media", arguing his West Wing adviser was the victim of anonymous and "criminal" leaks of intelligence information to reporters, although the White House had corroborated the news reporting about Flynn's phone calls with a Russian diplomat before Trump took office.

Both claim parts, if not all, of the holy city of Jerusalem as their capital. This is ostensibly referring to the ever-expanding Israeli settlements that remain unchecked by the global community. He also took the unprecedented step of walking away from a presidential commitment by refusing to recognize the letter between Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which effectively recognized Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank - referred to euphemistically by Bush as "major population centers"- as part of Israel's decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The UN estimates that there are 700,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.

The Palestinians do not have a history of acquiescing for long: There were multi-year uprisings in the late 1980s and early 2000s and a spate of violence in late 2015 and early 2016.

Leaving for Washington on Monday, Netanyahu sidestepped a question on whether he still backed a two-state solution, saying he would make his position clear in the U.S. capital.

"If the Trump Administration rejects this policy, it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility overseas", said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Asked about a "sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States", Trump gave an answer about the electoral college.

But the final strike, and perhaps the most unexpected, came from one of the staunchest supporters of Israel behind the US, Angela Merkel's Germany.

"When the first members of the Trump team were announced it was clear that many of them had ties with Israel or with the Israeli lobby in Washington".

The one-state solution, though, is problematic for both sides.

Why are settlements a problem?

Guterres earlier this month condemned the Israeli parliament's move to legalise thousands of settler homes in the occupied West Bank, saying it goes against worldwide law and will have legal consequences for Israel. They are considered settlements and not Israeli residential areas because Israel is widely considered to be an occupying force in the territories. It is land that Palestinians, along with the worldwide community, view as territory for a future Palestinian state.

In a statement, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog said it was "sad and embarrassing" to see Netanyahu "wrangling just in order to avoid the idea of separating from the Palestinians through two states".

Virtually the entire worldwide community supports a two-state solution. In the Middle East, most countries support the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, put forward by Saudi Arabia.

But there are militant factions that reject Israel's right to exist and support a one-state solution - but one called Palestine, not Israel. "They have to stop calling for Israel's destruction, they have to stop educating their people for Israel's destruction". I'm not even sure what all this one-state and two-state stuff is about. But in recent years, he's spoken more favorably of a "state minus" option - one that would provide Palestinians some limited form of autonomy while maintaining Israeli "security control" over the West Bank. They envision a secular state for all citizens, regardless of religion, culture or ethnicity.

Skeptics of such a one-state plan fear it would weaken Israel's Jewish and democratic character. This unprecedented visit, was allegedly meant to brief or reassure the Palestinian Authority on the Israeli PM's visit and talks with the new American president.

Some Palestinians and Middle East experts reacted with alarm, saying that such a policy change would undercut the chances, already slim, of progress toward reconciliation between the two sides.

CNN's Oren Liebermann reported from Jerusalem and Angela Dewan reported from London.