Americans for Peace Now (APN) issued this following statement following today's joint press conference by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump in the White House:
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu's press conference today presented an opportunity for the two leaders to signal to Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and the world a clear commitment to peace. It was an opportunity to signal that they can chart a constructive way forward for U.S.-Israel relations and for Israel's future, for its security and its well-being as a democracy and a Jewish state.
Netanyahu and Trump squandered this opportunity.
Instead of advancing the vision of a two-state solution -- the only viable vision that could rid Israel of the occupation, provide it with security through peace with the Palestinians, and open doors for peace with the entire Arab world -- the two leaders all but turned their backs on the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace. They undermined decades of diplomatic efforts by the U.S., Israel, and the international community to chart a way toward Israeli-Palestinian peace. These efforts offered hope and a political horizon to both Israelis and Palestinians.
On the heels of this terrifying press conference, the two leaders are not only depriving Israel of the very possibility of reaching peace but also undermining Israel's own future as a democracy and a Jewish state. They are delivering a huge victory to extremists on both sides. Trump and Netyanyahu's comments put the keys to Israel's future squarely in the hands of the country's far-right, pro-Greater Israel minority and put the leaders of the extremist settlers in the driver's seat. The two leaders' comments likewise will embolden those among the Palestinians and beyond who argue that diplomacy is a dead end and that only strong action -- boycotts, international legal measures and the like -- can achieve results for the Palestinians. The joint press conference, with both leaders' recycled cliches attributing the diplomatic gridlock solely to Palestinian hatred and incitement and ignoring the devastating impact of the occupation on both societies, blows more wind beneath the wings of extremists on both sides, who believe that only violence works.
The linguistic game-playing of both Trump and Netanyahu, who flippantly talked about possible solutions - one state, two states, Trump "can live with either one" - is both alarming and disheartening. Trump and Netanyahu know full well that the two-state solution is the only viable Israeli-Palestinian deal. They also know that the outlines of a two-state solution exist, and have been charted out through years of diplomatic efforts fostered by both Democratic and Republican US administrations, including the Clinton Parameters and the Obama administration's peace principles, as enunciated by former Secretary of State John Kerry. Furthermore, the two leaders know full well that the road to regional peace starts in the West Bank and Gaza. Arab leaders have made clear that they are ready to sign peace agreements with Israel, but will do so only after an Israeli-Palestinian two-state peace deal is accomplished.