White House transcript of remarks by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in New York on September 26, 2018.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. It’s great to be with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, and his representatives.
Obviously, we have much to discuss. The Prime Minister was just thanking me again for what we did in Jerusalem, with respect to the embassy. That’s been something that, I guess, was controversial, but it’s turned out to be very positive in many ways. And a lot of progress is being made in many other areas.
We’re talking trade. We’re talking military. We’re talking defense. And we are very much in favor of what Israel is doing as far as their defense is concerned. They’re aggressive, and they have no choice but to be aggressive. It’s a very difficult part of the world. So I just want to let Benjamin, let all of the people know — let Bibi know — that we are with you. We are with Israel 100 percent.
Thank you, Bibi. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you.
Q: Mr. President, when are you going to present your peace plan?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. President, Donald, thank you. And this is a manifold thank you.
First, thank you for your strong words yesterday in the General Assembly against the corrupt terrorist regime in Iran. You back up your strong words with strong actions. And I think the fact that you have brought American sanctions to bear has cut the cash machine of Iran and its campaign of carnage and conquest in the Middle East. And we, we live in the Middle East. Israelis are there who are subject to this Iranian danger and want to thank you, especially.
Secondly, I want to thank you for the extraordinary support that you have shown for Israel in this building, in the UN. No one has backed Israel like you do, and we appreciate it.
Third, this is the first time that we meet after the American embassy has been moved to Jerusalem.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s right.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: You’ve changed history. And you’ve touched our hearts.
And fourth and last, I want to say how much I appreciate your robust defense of Israel’s right of self-defense, which you just expressed. I think everybody should understand that Israel will continue to do what is necessary to defend ourselves against Iranian aggression in Syria and Lebanon, anywhere else. And I want to say, also, that we have no doubt that, as we do so, we’ll enjoy the support of President Donald Trump and the United States of America.
I think, and I say this objectively, that the American-Israeli alliance has never been stronger. It’s stronger than ever before under your leadership. And I look forward to working with you and your team to advance our common interest, security, prosperity, and peace with Israel’s neighbors and for the region. And we can do it with you.
Q: Mr. President, when are you going to present your peace plan?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re working along on that. It’s, I think, moving very well. There’s nothing I would rather do than see peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
I think lots of good things are happening. It will take a little time, as you know. It’s taken plenty of time — many, many decades, and nothing’s happened. But a lot of good things are happening.
Actually, by taking off the table the embassy moving to Jerusalem, that was always the primary ingredient as to why deals couldn’t get done. I spoke to many of the negotiating teams, and they said they could never get past the embassy moving into Jerusalem and all of what that meant, which you know what that meant. That meant everything. And now, that’s off the table.
Now, that will also mean that Israel will have to do something that will be good for the other side. We’re working —
Q: What do you mean when you say that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re working on — we’re working on deals. I think that — I really believe something will happen. They say it’s the toughest of all deals. When they talk about tough deals, they always say Israel and the Palestinians. That’s the toughest of all deals. It is a dream of mine to be able to get that done prior to the end of my first term. I don’t want to do it in my second term; we’ll do other things in my second term. But during this period of time.
And I can I say that I think a lot of progress has been made. I think that Israel wants to do something and I think that the Palestinians actually want to do something. A lot of progress has been made.
So, the time is moving and that will move. And I think it will start moving pretty soon, pretty rapidly. Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Say it? Say it?
Q: Are you going to talk with Mr. Putin about the tension between Israel and Russia?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will talk if it’s appropriate, when it’s appropriate. Yes, I will do that.
Q: Mr. President, when you said that Israel will have to pay now, after having the embassy moved, what do you mean? What do you expect from Israel?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, that’s a big chip that they got. I took probably the biggest chip off the table, and so obviously we have to start — you know, we have to make a fair deal. We have to do something. Deals have to be good for both parties. Otherwise, you don’t have a deal and you don’t have a lasting deal.
So something will have to be done. But that’s a very big chip. Israel got the first chip and it’s a big one. There’s no question about it.
Q: Mr. President, what’s your position about the Russian — the missiles the Russians are giving to Syria?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I haven’t heard this. We were just discussing it two minutes ago, and we’ll make a determination. We’ll find out about that.
Q: Mr. President, do you think the Palestinians will come back to the table? Palestinians — will they come back to the table?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Absolutely. One-hundred percent.
As you know, we were paying them $550 million a year. Now, we’re paying them nothing a year. Because we were — for years and years, we were being abused by the leadership of the Palestinians and giving them all of this money. So, now we’re not. But that will start up again and it’ll start up — I look forward to it because they use it for some purposes that are good — and some purposes that are not good, and not acceptable.
So, yeah, they’re absolutely coming back to the table. And they want to come back to the table.
Q: Mr. President, what are you — are you going to abide by the two-state solution? Will your plan include a two-state solution?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like two-state solution. I like two-state solution.
Q: So your plan is going to say “two-state solution”?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You just heard me, right? Okay, so that’s enough questions from you. Is that all right? (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. President, are you going say something about Jerusalem if you support a two-state solution?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Say it?
Q: Are you going to say something about —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like two-state solution. Yeah. That’s — that what I think — that’s what I think works best. I don’t even have to speak to anybody, that’s my feeling. Now, you may have a different feeling — I don’t think so — but I think two-state solution works best.
Yes, go ahead.
Q: Why are the Europeans bypassing U.S. sanctions on Iran? What do you make of that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think the Europeans will behave very nicely. Very nicely. Just watch.
Q: Are you upset by the move they’ve taken?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I’m not upset by anything. I don’t get upset.
Q: Would you want to see a new deal negotiated with Iran?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay, yes please, Steve?
Q: Sir, could I ask you: Do you think you’ll be releasing the peace plan in a matter of weeks, months? Could you give us some sort of timeframe?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ll have something — we have something very much in mind. It’s moving along really well.
I want to have — I want to have a plan, Steve, that is solid, understood by both sides — really, semi-agreed to by both sides before we start a negotiation.
I would say over the next two to three to four months, something like that. That would be the time that I’d like to at least release the plan.
It is a very complex situation, but I think we have some brilliant ideas. Ideas that have never been thought of before. Ideas that are good for both parties. And again, it has to be good for both parties. Okay?
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.