Trump: 'The Israelis are Going to Have to Show Some Flexibility' on Peace Process
WASHINGTON -- President Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop settlement construction for "a little bit" and declared he's fine with a two-state solution or one-state solution during the leaders' first meeting at the White House today.
The two leaders took the unusual move of holding an East Room press conference before they sat down for bilateral talks instead of afterward.
"As far as settlements, I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit," Trump said, turning to the prime minister. "We'll work something out but I would like to see a deal be made, I think a deal will be made. I know that every president would like to -- most of them have not started till late because they never thought it was possible and it was impossible because they didn't do it, but Bibi and I've known each other a long time."
"Smart man, great negotiator, and I think we're going to make a deal," he added. "It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand. That's a possibility so let's see what we do."
Trump said he's "looking at two-state and one-state" solutions for a Mideast deal with the Palestinians "and I like the one that both parties like."
"I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians -- if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best," he said.
Netanyahu stressed that "the issue of the settlements is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict."
He and Trump were going to discuss the issue, the prime minister added, "so we can arrive at an understanding so we don't keep on bumping into each other all the time on this issue."
Pressed on whether his administration plans on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Trump said he'd "love to see that happen."
"We're looking at it very, very strongly. We're looking at it with great care, great care, believe me," he said. "And we'll see what happens. OK?"
Netanyahu emphasized that his two prerequisites for peace haven't changed: "First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel's destruction, they have to stop educating their people for Israel's destruction," he said. "Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River because if we don't, we know what will happen. Because otherwise, we'll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East."