Obama to ask Netanyahu to avoid ‘one-state solution’
President Barack Obama is expected to encourage Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take steps to prevent Israel and the Palestinians from moving toward a “one-state solution” during their meeting at the White House next Monday, the president’s senior advisers said at a press briefing Thursday night, according to Haaretz.
The president’s senior adviser on the Middle East, Rob Malley, said at the briefing that Obama reached the conclusion that in his time left in office the Israelis and the Palestinians will not be able to reach a peace treaty and it’s doubtful that they will be able to resume direct talks on a permanent agreement.
According to Malley, Obama will still want to hear from Netanyahu what he is willing to do to reach some sort of progress in the current situation.
“The main thing the president would want to hear from Netanyahu is that without peace talks how does he want to move forward to prevent a one-state solution, stabilize the situation on the ground and to signal he is committed to the two-state solution,” he was quoted as having said.
Malley noted that Obama will want to hear from Netanyahu what trust-building steps he is willing to take in order to “leave the door open for a two-state solution.” According to him, these must be steps that will clarify that for Israel the two-state solution remains the only way forward facing the Palestinians.
“The onus is on the Israelis and Palestinians to say what they are willing to do… Not only safeguard the possibility of the two-state solution in the future but to show there are ways to move there,” Malley said.
Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, was also at the briefing and said that despite the inability to reach a peace deal, Obama “thinks there is urgency for moving in the direction of the two-state solution.”
Malley and Rhodes refused to say outright whether one of the steps Obama wants Netanyahu to take is a freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria, but they both stressed that construction in these areas “does not correspond” with the two-state solution, according to Haaretz.
The comments on the “two-state” solution come amid a continued push by Western countries for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume peace talks.
Obama recently touted the “two-state” solution in a video address at the memorial marking 20 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, saying, “Peace is possible, if both parties are willing to truly compromise and take risks for the only real solution – two states for two people; a democratic Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state”.
It is not just the United States, however, that has been pushing the sides toresume talks. New Zealand recently presented a draft UN resolution aimed at reviving the stalled peace talks and calling on Israelis and the Palestinians to end the violence, prepare for peace talks and declares the two-state solution to be the “only credible pathway to peace”.
New Zealand’s initiative came after France circulated a draft for a council statement that failed to win agreement, highlighting difficulties to forge a consensus in the council.
Monday’s meeting between Obama and Netanyahu will be their first meeting since the six world powers, including the United States, reached the nuclear deal with Iran last summer.
They are also expected to discuss the defense aid package that the United States provides to Israel, with the current package set to expire in 2017.