Did Trump kill off a two-state solution?

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Palestinians demonstrating in Jerusalem, Dec 7, 2017. (photo: Uriel Sinai / The New York Times)

A one-state solution may now be the only viable option.

By Mark Lander, David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Dec 7, 2017


“They’ve left us with no option [except a one-state solution],” he said. “This is the reality. We live here. Our struggle should focus on one thing: equal rights.”
— Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization


President Trump, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, declared that the United States still supported a two-state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, provided it was “agreed to by both sides.”

For the first time in his 26 years as a peacemaker, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians did not agree.

Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a steadfast advocate for a Palestinian state, said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “have managed to destroy that hope.” He embraced a radical shift in the P.L.O.’s goals — to a single state, but with Palestinians enjoying the same civil rights as Israelis, including the vote.

Mr. Erekat’s change of heart is unlikely to change Palestinian policy. The dream of a Palestinian state is too deeply ingrained in a generation of its leaders for the Palestinian Authority to abandon it now. Israel would be unlikely to accede to equal rights, because granting a vote to millions of Palestinians would eventually lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

But the fact that Mr. Erekat is speaking openly about it attests to the turmoil caused in the Middle East by Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. More so than the protests that erupted in the West Bank, which injured dozens of people but were less intense than expected, the comments of senior Palestinians like Mr. Erekat captured the profound sense of despair.

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