Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

The Trump Administration Should Intervene on the Basis of the Two-State Solution
HIRAYAMA Kentaro / Journalist

March 30, 2017
US President Donald Trump, after his first meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, touched on the “two-state” solution for Israel and Palestine during their joint press conference. “I'm looking at two states and one state. And I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump said. His comments drew the attention of the world’s media as a retreat from the two-state method endorsed by the UN Security Council as a prescription for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a proposal made by none other than the US government, under the leadership of then President George W. Bush.

And while President Trump urged the Israeli government to exercise self-restraint in its accelerated drive to build Jewish settlements in the west bank of the River Jordan that Israel continues to occupy, he made no mention of the recent UN Security Council resolution that criticized the construction of such settlements as a violation of international law. The previous administration of President Barack Obama, nearing the end of his term, had played an instrumental role in getting the resolution adopted by refraining from exercising the US right to veto.

On his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu has praised the Trump administration as the best US government in history for Israeli interests, and presented two conditions for negotiations during the same press conference. He was undoubtedly motivated to attach these conditions because he was aware that the two-state solution currently has broad support among Jewish voters in the US.

The first condition requires the Palestinian side to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a “Jewish state,” while the second seeks to ensure continued Israeli control over security in all areas west of the River Jordan.

Giving explicit recognition to a concept that equates Israel with a “Jewish state” would lead to discriminatory treatment of Arab residents in Israel, who account for nearly 20 percent of the population, and make it difficult for Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee when Israel gained statehood to return to their homes. This is obviously not an option for the Palestinian side. Apparently, Prime Minister Netanyahu is prodding the Palestinians to agree to direct negotiations “without preconditions,” while at the same time setting an insurmountable hurdle. The Palestinian side will interpret this as a ploy to postpone any direct talks.

The same thing can be said about maintaining security in the West Bank. Palestinian territory constitutes only about 40 percent of the total area of the West Bank occupied by Israel. And in reality, Palestinian police authorities have been unable to keep Islamic militants such as Hamas under control on its own, leaving rough work requiring combat, such as arresting suspects, to Israeli military forces. Yet, as long as Israeli forces are free to come and go, Palestine would not be a truly independent state, even if it were to win its independence.

“What if Hamas rises to power in an independent Palestine?” Highlighting this threat has been the trump card of Israel’s right-wing factions, including the Prime Minister. The United States has been engaged in arbitration for a quarter century. President Bill Clinton, who went the extra mile in seeking a solution, even presented the Palestinian side with an offer to dispatch US troops under a mediation plan proposed in 2000. If the Trump administration has the will to uphold the two-state solution, it is imperative that the US pays due care to issues such as guaranteeing security through international military action and allowing Israeli forces to remain for a certain period of time during the transition, ensuring close cooperation with the Palestinian security authorities against terrorism.

On February 28, President Trump addressed the Joint Session of Congress, and while he spoke glowingly of Israel, his speech on the whole was unprecedentedly steeped in the language of international cooperation, allowing the public to catch its breath. For the time being, we can expect Pre Bannon, his Chief Strategist and ally during the presidential campaign, and his other senior officials who take a more realistic view, such as National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

sident Trump to waver between the opinions of ultra-rightist ideologues such as Steve
Japan should steadfastly adhere to its stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and maintain a discreet distance from the “Iran threat” - a review of the nuclear agreement - being played up by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Kentaro Hirayama is a member of the Editorial Staff of “The Arab” quarterly magazine, and former NHK Executive Commentator.

The English-Speaking Union of Japan

平山健太郎 / ジャーナリスト

2017年 3月 30日









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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > The Trump Administration Should Intervene on the Basis of the Two-State Solution