We ‘absolutely’ support two-state solution: US ambassador to UN

Nikki Haley speaks to reporters after a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Feb. 16, 2017 at UN headquarters.

The United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is thinking of new ways to push for a peace deal, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.

It would be an “error” to say the United States is abandoning its decades-old policy of backing a Palestinian state as part of a final settlement, she told reporters. “We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well,” Haley said following a Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She repeated her statement three times in response to questions from journalists outside the council chamber. The United States wants to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians “at the table to have them talk through this in a fresh way, to say ‘okay we’re going back to the drawing board: what can we agree on?” she said.

The council earlier heard the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, insist that the two-state solution remains “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis. Trump announced Wednesday that the United States would not insist on a two-state solution to the conflict, stepping back from previous US policy and the international consensus on the peace process. Haley accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias.

Describing her first council meeting on the Middle East as “a bit strange,” she said there was no mention of rockets fired by Hezbollah militants or the threat from Iran, but that discussions had focused on “criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.”

The US ambassador again described as a “terrible mistake” a council resolution adopted in the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory.

Germany: More settlements may end two-state solution

Germany’s foreign minister on Thursday warned that building more Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories could end the prospect of a two-state solution and fuel conflict in the region.

“We are concerned that unlimited construction of settlements will … make a two-state solution impossible and could increase the risks of conflicts in the Middle East, including possible war,” Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, showing Berlin’s growing frustration about settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A vote by the Israeli Knesset to “legalize” settlements banned under international law further complicated the situation, Gabriel said during a news conference at a G20 foreign ministers meeting. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the US position on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier was “very confused and worrying”.

Gabriel said Germany would continue to advocate a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it “the only realistic option to reduce conflict in the region and prevent the emergency of a new war”. Germany’s concerns about settlements have already derailed a meeting planned between the German and Israeli governments in May, with one senior German official saying ties between the two countries had been “completely pared back.”

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