U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Tuesday that the Trump administration supports “Palestinian autonomy,” but does not use the phrase “two-state solution” as it works to develop a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We believe in Palestinian autonomy,” Friedman told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “We believe in Palestinian self-governance. We believe that the autonomy should be extended up until the point where it interferes with Israeli security.”
Asked if the as-yet-unveiled American peace plan is based on the two-state concept, Friedman responded “We haven’t used that phrase, but it’s not because we are trying to drive toward a one-state solution … The issue we have is agreeing in advance to a state because the word ‘state’ conjures up with it so many potential issues that we think it does a disservice to us to use that phrase until we can have a complete exposition of all the rights and limitations that would go into Palestinian autonomy.”
According to Friedman, the Bahrain “Peace to Prosperity” conference in June was intended to “help the Palestinians create some of the institutions necessary for statehood,” but warned: “Let’s be clear, the last thing the world needs is a failed Palestinian state in between Jordan and Israel.”
He noted that even former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who gained notoriety as a strong proponent of making concessions for peace, was unwilling to use the term “Palestinian state,” preferring to use words “like autonomy and self-governance.”
Friedman emphasized that the administration is not pushing for a one-state solution.
“I don’t think anyone responsible in Israel is pushing for a one-state solution,” he said. “I don’t think there is a serious political movement in Israel for a one-state solution, and I don’t think any of the acts Israel has taken or we’ve taken over the past two years is driving us to that point.”
In the interview, Friedman also minimized comments he made in The New York Times in June about the legitimacy of Israeli annexation in parts of Judea and Samaria, saying the Israeli government has not raised the issue with the administration, which renders the matter “hypothetical.”
Friedman told CNN that “it’s good for Israel and good for the Palestinians” that the Israeli Security Cabinet approved construction of 700 Palestinian housing units in Israeli-controlled Area C, saying the U.S. administration has been encouraging Israel to improve conditions for Palestinians in the area.