With the two leaders of the United States and the United Nations taking office in January, rift appears to be growing between Donald Trump’s administration and the top world body led by Antonio Guterres, mostly over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump and Guterres made simultaneous statements on the necessity of the two-state solution to settle the conflict, yet with two different positions.
While Guterres reiterated on Wednesday in Cairo, the final destination of his first regional tour, that “there is no plan B for the two-state solution,” Trump was reassuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over unlimited U.S. support.
In a joint press conference in Washington, Trump backed off U.S. commitment to support the two-state solution and said it was not the only way to achieve Mideast peace.
“I am looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” said Trump, adding the Palestinians and Israelis “must directly negotiate” and they both will have to make compromises.
Trump’s remarks failed the Arab world and prompted the Arab League to respond with a statement reiterating the necessity of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital city.
After a meeting with Guterres in Cairo on Thursday, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said in a statement that the conflict “requires a comprehensive and just peace based on a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state.”
Egypt, whose leader Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi eyes promising relations with Trump, also made a similar statement to reiterate its support for the two-state solution.
Israel has always been blamed by the international community for the deadlock of the Middle East peace process due to its settlement expansion policy that is rejected even by its strongest ally, the U.S..
Still, despite a late 2016 UN Security Council resolution demanding immediate and complete halt of Israeli settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli parliament approved in February the so-called “Regulation Bill” that retroactively legalizes about 3,850 housing units in dozens of outposts built illegally on privately owned Palestinian lands.
The resolution was hailed by Arabs as “historic” and seen as a spark of light at the end of the tunnel that could lead to U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and put an end to the decades-long conflict.
As the resolution was not vetoed by Barack Obama’s outgoing administration while Trump was a president-elect, Netanyahu accused Obama of orchestrating the whole thing before leaving White House.
Trump made several efforts to stop the anti-settlement UN resolution and pressured Egypt to withdraw it, yet the draft resolution was later resubmitted for vote by New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal and it was massively endorsed.
To show support for Israel, Trump vowed as a presidential candidate to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital city for their future statement.
Confident in Trump’s support, the Israeli government recently announced plans to build about 6,000 Jewish settlement housing units in the West Bank. The U.S. president said to Netanyahu in Washington, “I’d like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit.”
Failing to stop the anti-settlement resolution as a president-elect, Trump vowed changes at the UN when he would come to the Oval Office. He recalled the resolution at his news conference with Netanyahu on Wednesday and said that the UN treated Israel “very, very unfairly.”
One more difference between Trump’s administration and the UN is seen in their debate over the nominated UN envoy to Libya. Although it seems weird as Libya is a different issue, it is clearly understood when the nominee is no other than former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said she was “disappointed” to learn that Guterres named the Palestinian ex-official as envoy to Libya and vetoed the man’s appointment.
“For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” said Trump’s ambassador. Enditem
Source: Mahmoud Fouly, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh