US official nods at growing government concern over two-state solution

"People in the government are asking the question what can we do to keep the two-state solution alive, and they're generating ideas," says senior US official.

March 10, 2016 08:23
1 minute read.
israeli palestinian flags

Palestinian protesters wave Palestinian flags as Israelis carrying Israeli flags walk past in front of the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON - Having twice failed to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Obama administration is discussing ways to help preserve the prospect of an increasingly threatened two-state solution, US officials said.

One possibility under discussion is to issue an outline of a deal to end the nearly 70-year-old conflict on such matters as borders, security, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Such an outline could range from a brief description of core tradeoffs the two sides might need to make to a detailed set of "parameters" like those that former US President Bill Clinton laid out for the parties in late 2000.

Under one scenario, the outline could be enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution to give it greater international standing for a future US president or the parties whenever they might resume peace talks that collapsed in April 2014.

"It's one of the ideas that they are talking about," said a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Resorting to a UN resolution would require a major shift in long-standing US. policy, which has mostly opposed use of the United Nations as a forum for pressuring Israel. The United States has repeatedly insisted it is up to the two sides to directly negotiate over their differences.

Another possibility would be for US President Barack Obama to make a speech laying out his principles for a settlement.

US officials have no expectation peace talks will resume before the end of Obama's term in January 2017 and they played down the odds of any quick decision on how the White House might help preserve a two-state solution.

"People in the government are asking the question what can we do to keep the two-state solution alive, and they're generating ideas," said a senior US official.

The ideas had not yet risen to senior White House staff and Obama is focused on other issues including Islamic State, Iran and Cuba, the officials said.

Two separate peace efforts, by George Mitchell and US Secretary of State John Kerry, have failed during Obama's seven years in office.

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