Israeli cabinet ministers welcomed United States President Donald Trump’s statement on Wednesday to end the long-held two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Washington would no longer insist that any peace deal leads to a recognised Palestinian state, Trump said in the first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the presidential elections.

“I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying in a joint press conference with Netanyahu.

“I can live with either one… The ‘two states’ looks like it could be the easier of the two… I’m happy with the one they like the best,” Trump added.

Israeli leaders welcomed the statement as “the end of the two-state epoch”, calling to push forward with annexation of the West Bank.

“The Palestinian flag was taken off the mast today and replaced with Israel’s flag,” said Naftali Bennet, Education Minister and leader of the pro-settler party of the Jewish Home.

Israeli Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that “it’s a very important day”, adding that Trump’s statements “prove we are in a new era”.

Trump’s approach was widely seen as a defiance of international pressure to create a state of Palestine alongside Israel as a solution to the conflict.

Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War and has controlled these territories ever since, despite international condemnations.

The Palestinians wish to build their future state on these lands, with its capital in East Jerusalem, a territory Israel annexed and claimed part of its “undividable and eternal” capital”, in a move not recognised by the international community.

First Published | 16 February 2017 7:15 AM
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