US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel, speaking in Jordan on Monday at the end of a whirlwind Middle East visit.
“We believe that the Israelis and Palestinians need to have political engagement. We urge the Palestinians to return to that political dialogue,” Pompeo said during a joint press conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
When asked about a two-state solution, Pompeo said: “The parties will ultimately make the decision about what the right resolution is. We are open to a two-party solution as a likely outcome.”
Since entering office, US President Donald Trump has spoken of a plan to resolve the conflict but has yet to publicize details of that plan.
Former Israeli ambassador to the US MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) told the Foreign Press Association that Trump was putting the “final touches” on the plan.
The peace process itself has been frozen for the last four years. Many Israeli politicians hold that a two-state solution is no longer considered a viable solution to the conflict.
Pompeo did not meet with Palestinian leaders during his trip to the region, which included stops in Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
The bulk of Pompeo’s talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the country’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, as well as with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, focused on Iran and Syria.
But with the pending relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process hovered in the background of the trip.
“An important piece of achieving Middle East civility is to resolve this conflict,” Pompeo said.
He ducked the question of how the US ranked it relative to other Middle East issues.
“It is an incredible priority for the US to provide whatever assistance we can to allow the two parties to come to the resolution of this incredibly long standing conflict,” Pompeo said.
Safadi said he believed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the “main cause of instability in the region.”
He spoke of the importance of a two-state solution, with borders at the pre-1967 lines, as the best resolution to the conflict.
“Yes, the two-state solution is being challenged,” Safadi said. “Yes, there are many obstacles. But, I think, what is the alternative?”
“The two-state solution remains the only path to that peace,” Safadi said.
With regard to Syria, Pompeo said the use of chemical weapons was “intolerable” and presents an “enormous risk to the world.”
The Republican politician from Kansas was sworn into office on Thursday, leaving immediately for a Friday meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. He is to return to Washington on Tuesday.
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