U.N., Arabs Line Up for Two-State Solution; PLO, Hezbollah Threaten Violence

YERUSHALAYIM (AP/Reuters/Hamodia) -
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

On Thursday the United Nations and the Arab League issued a joint statement in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state, exposing a rift with President Donald Trump, who says it’s up to Israel and the Palestinians to agree on the form of a final settlement.

After a meeting in Cairo, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said they agreed that the two-state solution is “the only way to achieve comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian cause.”

The statement put them at odds with President Trump, who said at a White House meeting with Netanyahu that Mideast peace does not necessarily have to include the establishment of a Palestinian state. Mr. Trump said he could accept a two-state solution or a single-state arrangement if it is agreed upon by all sides. Netanyahu also was cool with the idea of an independent Palestine, saying he did not want to deal with “labels.”

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Meanwhile, the Palestinian reaction to Trump’s comment was to threaten violence. A representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said on Thursday that “the alternative to a two-state solution is painful bloodshed.”

The PLO official equated rejection of the two-state solution with the outright rejection of the peace process in general.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he is still committed to the two-state solution and is prepared to work with the new U.S. administration, according to a statement from the PA president’s office.

From terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon came typically inflammatory statements.

“After what came out after the meeting between Netanyahu and Trump, I am not exaggerating if I say that yesterday there was a semi-official announcement of the death of the path of negotiations,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast live.

“We invite the Israeli enemy to empty not just the ammonia tanks in Haifa, but also to dismantle the nuclear core in Dimona,” and that “it is in our power to threaten any part of Israel.”

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasralla speaking via video during a ceremony to honor fallen Hezbollah leaders, in Teir Debba, Lebanon, on Thursday. During the speech, Nasrallah also threatened Israel. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

The Iranians were also watching the proceedings in Washington. They responded to President Trump’s pledge to keep them from getting nuclear weapons and to fight their terrorist activities by insisting that Israel, not Iran, is the danger.
“The Zionist regime (Israel) poses the biggest threat to regional and international peace and security by possessing hundreds of nuclear warheads in its arsenal,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Qasemi repeated Tehran’s assertion that a nuclear weapons program had “no place in Iran’s defense doctrine.”

“The accusations against Iran are in contradiction to multiple reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which have confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities,” Qasemi said.

Also on Thursday, a new poll showed that the number of Israelis and Palestinians who support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state has dropped in recent months. But far more people continue to prefer the two-state solution to an alternative single-state arrangement.

The poll found that 55 percent of Israelis and 44 percent of Palestinians support a two-state arrangement. That was down from 59 percent and 51 percent support last June. Yet just 24 percent of Israelis and one-third of Palestinians prefer a single binational state, the poll found.

The EU-funded poll was conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It questioned over 1,200 people on each side in December and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.