WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump rejected the long-established US framework for Middle East peacemaking at a White House visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday as he announced his desire to reach "the ultimate deal."
In staking his claim to a prize that has eluded many a leader before him, Trump previewed the nascent outlines of an approach that -- if he sticks with it -- ditches bipartisan orthodoxy, borrows some old ideas and, Middle East experts say, will be no easier to pull off now than in the past.
As Trump declared his deep support for the Jewish state, he abandoned the bedrock principle that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will come via two states for two peoples. Instead, he referred to the possibility of an Arab-backed peace process, an idea that's been floating around since the beginning of this century without producing results.
"The United States will encourage a peace and really, a great peace deal," Trump declared at a news conference alongside Netanyahu. "We'll be working on it very, very diligently."
Asked whether he was abandoning the idea of a two-state solution, Trump said, "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like."
He continued, "If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."
He also said at one point, "It is the parties themselves that must directly negotiate. Both sides will have to make compromises." Then turning to Netanyahu, he added a question: "You know that, right?"