U.S. President Donald Trump described a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue as “best” for the first time in his presidency. But, he said, either a two-state or a one-state solution was “fine if it results in peace.”
Trump made the remarks at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) this past week. It’s the only annual gathering of all 193 UN member nations.
“I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore,” Trump said.
Qualifications for United Nations Membership
UN membership is open to “all peace-loving sovereign nations.” While “peace-loving” would seem to be a good qualification, consider that Iran is a member despite devolving into one of the world’s top sponsors of terrorism.
Admission to the UN also requires a recommendation by the Security Council and approval with a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly.
Palestine is not a sovereign nation. But those who purport to represent it are allowed to observe and speak at UNGA meetings. They cannot vote, however.
At its annual week-long conference, UNGA facilitates lofty debates regarding the world’s most vexing issues. The body rarely takes action beyond overseeing the UN budget, making recommendations, and passing non-binding resolutions. It can vote to evoke a member’s UN status if that nation becomes a threat to international peace and the Security Council fails to act.
The only country ever expelled from the UN was South Africa for its 1948–1991 institutionalized racial discrimination policy of apartheid. A few developing nations have lost voting rights for nonpayment of fees. Iran’s regular abuse of the UN charter and violation of five Security Council resolutions to stop enriching uranium has earned it sanctions but not expulsion.
Where the Real Business Happens
With numerous diplomats and influential individuals gathering in New York at the same time, many use the opportunity for “sideline meetings” to address issues in categories ranging from humanitarian and environmental to business and political. Sometimes these meetings are as publicized as the official UNGA sessions.
Last week, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas met with Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli Foreign Minister, incumbent Leader of the Opposition and the Hatnuah party, and a member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union.
Livni encouraged Abbas to return to dialogue with the U.S. before it’s too late and the two-state solution disappears. Still, Abbas continued to snub President Trump over the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem earlier this year, as well as funding cuts to Palestinian refugees, calling these acts of war.
“It is important that you join the effort to find a solution before Gaza officially becomes ‘Hamastan,’” Livni advised. “You will cause sadness to generations if you continue to isolate yourselves, burn bridges and take unilateral steps against Israel.”
Livni said at a later press conference, “In the Middle East, we have to choose among bad options, and Abbas is the less bad option.”
After another sideline meeting with international diplomats to protect the two-state solution, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told reporters that a two-state solution would need to “allow the Palestinians to create their independent state that is viable and contiguous geographically, on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
This geographic description refers to territory Israel gained in her victory over Egypt, Jordan and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.
President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked in yet another sideline meeting. Afterward, Netanyahu said he “was not surprised by Trump's statement regarding two states,” The Jerusalem Postreported, adding that he told the president in private that his priority is “to maintain Israel’s control over the security environment.”
Israel’s official stand is that giving up the land the PA demands as a prerequisite for peace would only embolden the terrorists given sanctuary in Palestine and the Gaza Strip. The security situation would become worse for Israel, not better, leaders have said.
Netanyahu’s desire to retain security control amounts to “the burial of the two-state paradigm,” The Hill reported last year.
The real issue is that, when diplomats and leaders like Trump, Netanyahu and Abbas tout a two-state solution, each is referring to a different concept. There are actually several two-state solutions that have been proposed, but each one carries a different definition of what “two-state” means.
After last week’s UNGA meetings, conditions between Israel and Palestinians remain the same as before the 193 nations convened for lofty debate: Peace continues to be elusive, requiring compromise — and, among other things, for Arabs to scrub their school curriculum of anti-Israel hatred.
Please pray with us for God’s peace for Israel, and also protection for Jewish people experiencing escalating terrorist activity and anti-Semitism worldwide.
When you give to Jewish Voice today, you support Arab-Israeli reconciliation efforts through our ministry partners on the ground in Israel. You also help support JVMI’s ministry to young people in the Israeli army and provide vision and dental care for aging Holocaust Survivors in need, as they live out their last years in Israel. As we together help these targeted groups, it most importantly opens the door to share with them the Good News of Yeshua (Jesus).