US ‘absolutely’ favors 2-state solution, UN ambassador says
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US ‘absolutely’ favors 2-state solution, UN ambassador says

Nikki Haley's reaffirmation of longstanding American policy comes after Trump walked back commitment to it

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters after a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Thursday, February 16, 2017 at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters after a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Thursday, February 16, 2017 at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

UNITED NATIONS — The United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is thinking of new ways to push for a peace deal, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.

It would be an “error” to say the United States is abandoning its decades-old policy of backing a Palestinian state as part of a final settlement, she told reporters.

“We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well,” Haley said following a Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She repeated her statement of support to the two-state solution three times in response to questions from journalists outside the council chamber.

The United States wants to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians to “the table to have them talk through this in a fresh way, to say, ‘Okay we’re going back to the drawing board. What can we agree on?'” she said.

The Security Council earlier heard the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, insist that the two-state solution remains “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis.

Britain, France and Sweden reaffirmed their support for Palestinian statehood as part of a final deal.

“It is very dangerous to move away from the two-state solution idea, especially before you have something viable as an alternative,” Sweden’s Ambassador Olof Skoog warned. Sweden has recognized Palestinian statehood.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the council had reaffirmed its support for the two-state solution and that there was “no need to reinvent the wheel” in the peace process.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre echoed Mladenov’s comments, saying: “should the prospect of a Palestinian state disappear, it would open the door to more extremism and more terrorism.”

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Haley’s comments come a day after President Donald Trump appeared to walk back the US commitment to the two-state solution. During a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

Trump’s remarks seemed to mark a change in US policy, as support for a two-state solution has long had strong bi-partisan support.

On the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to the White House, a senior White House official told reporters that while the US will strongly push for peace a deal between the US and the Palestinians, such an agreement does not necessarily need to take the form of a two-state solution. Trump built on those comments by saying “the United States will encourage a peace, and really a great peace deal,” while adding that such a peace agreement need not come about through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

While taking with reporters Thursday, Haley also accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias.

Describing her first council meeting on the Middle East as “a bit strange,” she said there was no mention of rockets fired by Hezbollah or the threat from Iran, but that discussions had focused on “criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.”

The US ambassador again described as a “terrible mistake” a Security Council resolution adopted in the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which labelled settlements as “a flagrant violation under international law” and having “no legal validity” and branded East Jerusalem, including the Old City, as occupied Palestinian territory.

 

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