U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday rejected suggestions that the United States was abandoning the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying Washington “absolutely” supports the policy but wants fresh ideas on how to move forward.
“Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution, that would be an error,” Haley told reporters at the United Nations. “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.
Her remarks appeared to temper those of President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday announced that the United States would not insist on a two-state solution to the conflict. “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
That statement was seen as a break from previous U.S. policy and from the international consensus on recognition of a Palestinian state as part of a final Middle East peace deal. Haley said the United States wants to help bring Israelis and Palestinians “at 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?’”
In Washington, Trump’s nominee to become U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said he was skeptical that a two-state solution was feasible but he did not rule it out. “I have expressed my skepticism about the two-state solution solely on the basis of what I have perceived as unwillingness to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state,” Friedman told a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing.
Haley repeated her statement of U.S. support to the two-state solution three times in response to questions from journalists and said the U.S. administration would be unbiased in its peace efforts. She accused the United Nations of anti-Israel bias and said criticism of Israel had turned the world body into “more of a divider than a uniter” on the peace process.
The ambassador described as a “terrible mistake” a council resolution adopted in the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory. During the council meeting, the U.N. envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, insisted 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.”