Israeli right celebrates Trump-Netanyahu meeting as dawn of “a new era”

President Trump’s backing away from support for a two-state solution as been heralded as the dawn of a “new era” by right-wing Israeli politicians [AFP]
The joint press conference held Wednesday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump was hailed as “historic” Thursday by politicians on Israel’s right.

The cause for celebration was Trump’s apparent backing away from a two-state solution, a break from past presidents. “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said during the meeting. 

Jewish Home MK and Israel Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a supporter of Israeli annexation of the West Bank, praised the meeting as representing the downfall of a two-state solution.

“The Palestinian flag has been taken off the flagpole and was replaced with the Israeli flag,” Bennett declared, according to Haaretz. “The Palestinians already have two states – Gaza and Jordan. There is no need for a third.”

Bennett, who had urged Netanyahu to drop advocating for a two-state solution, said the Prime Minister “demonstrated leadership and daring, and fortified the security of Israel and its sovereignty.”

Trump’s remarks were also received enthusiastically by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said they “prove we are in a new era. The positions the president took indicate an understanding that the two-state solution is not the only solution for achieving peace and that the time has come to reverse the equation and exert pressure on the Palestinian side.”

Bennett and Erdan did not offer comment on Trump’s urging of Netanyahu to “hold back” on settlement construction, which is strongly supported by most on the Israeli right.

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich adopted a more skeptical approach, noting that Trump’s remarks were largely par for the course for U.S. presidents.

“If you discount the warmth and encouragement from President Trump, what Netanyahu heard this evening doesn’t differ in any way from what his predecessors said,” Yacimovich said. “He demanded that Israel stop the settlements, declared that he would work hard on a good deal in which both sides would have to compromise, and asked Israel for flexibility, compromises and concessions.”

During the meeting, Trump expressed confidence in his deal-making prowess and ability to resolve the Middle East’s most intractable conflict.

“I think we’re going to make a deal,” he said. “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand.”

One person who appeared to take President Trump and his vague proposals less than seriously was Prime Minister Netanyahu himself.

“I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said, regarding his support for either a one-state or two-state solution.

Netanyahu chuckled heartily in response. 

02/16/2017 11:44 AM by Menachem Rephun

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