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Donald Trump asks Israeli PM Netanyahu to 'hold off' on settlements

He expressed his openness to a one-state solution to the decade-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, US, Israel, White House
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

President today expressed his openness to a one-state solution to the decade-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even as he asked visiting Israeli Prime Minister for a temporary hold on Jewish settlements in lands claimed by the Palestinians.

"As far as settlements, I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit," Trump told Netanyahu at a joint White House news conference after their first face-to-face meeting since Trump became the President on January 20.

Breaking with past traditions, Trump also said that he would be open to alternate solutions that do not necessarily involve a two-state solution to the six-decade-long

"It is something that is very different, hasn't been discussed before. It's actually a much bigger deal — much more important deal in a sense," he said.

"I'm looking at 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 can live with either one," Trump said at the press conference while noting that the Israelis also need to show some flexibility.

"We'll work something out but, I think a deal will be made... It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand," he said.

Trump also said that his administration is very seriously looking at moving the Embassy to Jerusalem.

"As far as the embassy moving to Jerusalem, I'd love to see that happen. We're looking at it very, very strongly," Trump said.

Relocating the Embassy to Jerusalem would signal American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

While not committing to the Trump request to put a hold on settlement, Netanyahu set two prerequisites for peace with the Palestinians.

"First, the Palestinians must recognise the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel's destruction, they have to stop educating their people for Israel's destruction," he said.

"Second, in any peace agreement, must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River because if we don't, we know what will happen.

"Because otherwise, we'll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East," he said.

"Now, unfortunately, the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites for peace," he rued and squarely blamed Palestinians for the failure of arriving at a peace deal.

"The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognise a Jewish state in any boundary, this persistent rejectionism, that's the reason we don't have peace. Now that has to change, I want it to change," he said.

Netanyahu said he believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach from involving Arab partners in the pursuant of a broader peace with the Palestinians.

First Published: Thu, February 16 2017. 04:15 IST