President Donald Trump today said that he is keeping his options open about how best to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation but urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in occupied territories.
“I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said while standing next to Netanyahu.
Trump also called on Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
At one point, Trump said that “as with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises.” He then turned to Netanyahu, and he responded “both sides.”
Later, Trump said that Israel is “going to have to show some increased flexibility, which is hard to do” and Palestinians “have to get rid of some of the hate that they are taught from a very young age.”
Netanyahu said that the alliance between the U.S. and Israel is already strong, “but under your leadership, I’m confident that it will get even stronger.”
Netanyahu is the latest in a string of foreign leaders who have visited the White House since President Trump took office last month. On Tuesday, Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and he spent the weekend with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida after they had meetings in the White House on Friday.
The first foreign leader to visit the White House since the inauguration was British Prime Minister Theresa May.
What makes today’s news conference different is that it is being held before the two leaders have private meetings.
During the presidential campaign, Trump stressed that he would be a strong ally for Israel and when he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference May 18, 2016, Trump said, “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end, on day one.
“I mean it. I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately. I have known him for many years. And we’ll be able to work closely together to help bring stability and peace to Israel, and to the entire region.”