US: We're keeping two-state solution alive

'Negotiations towards a two-state solution aren't on the table, but we're keeping the possibility alive,' State Dep't. spokesman Ned Price says.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ned Price
Ned Price
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/POOL/File Photo

Ned Price, spokesman for the US Department of State, on Wednesday emphasized that the US commitment to a two-state solution in Israel is steadfast.

In a question-and-answer session Price was asked, "The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. [Naftali] Bennett, said yesterday that no negotiation to establish a terrorist state in Israel. So he’s basically saying no to the prospect of a Palestinian state – something that you’ve been calling all along. So what do you say to counter that? How would you, let’s say, emphasize your commitment to the two-state solution with Mr. Bennett?"

Price responded, "Look, I am not going to offer a direct response to the prime minister, but our position on the two-state solution is well known; it is as well known as it is clear. We believe that a two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable, democratic Palestinian state."

"That is why we will continue to focus our efforts on an approach that is affirmative, an approach that is practical, an approach that seeks to improve the quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians alike, in the immediate term, and over the longer term to help keep the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution alive.

"You’ve heard us say this before, but we believe that Israelis and Palestinians equally – deserve equal measures of safety, of security, of prosperity, of democracy, and of dignity. That’s really at the core of our approach."

The questioner then asked, "Yes, but while that’s great – I mean, that – but in many ways it sounds like a euphemism for inaction. Because as we speak, as we speak, the daily assault on the Palestinians – not only uprooting trees, killing children, demolishing homes, poisoning water – I mean, you can go on – killing fishermen, restricting all – this goes on on a daily basis. This goes on on a daily basis. What actions are you willing to take so – or to impress upon the Israelis so they stop doing this thing, or minimize doing this thing, or just sort of pull back? Whether on NGOs that are defiant and designated as terrorist organizations and so on, whether it’s the NSO that Israel is probably pressing upon you to sort of not – to take it off your blacklist and so on while they are spying on Palestinians every day of their lives. So I mean, what action will you ever take to show the Israelis that you are really serious in these statements that you say time and time again?"

"We’ve addressed many of the issues that you raised," Price said. "What I would focus on are the tangible ways in which we have gone about seeking to improve the lives and the livelihoods of Israelis and Palestinians alike."

"When it comes to the Palestinian people, we have said – from the earliest days of this administration, spoken of our re-engagement with the Palestinian Authority, and in this case the Palestinian people. We’ve resumed assistance to the Palestinian people. We’ve provided over $400 million in economic, development, security, and humanitarian assistance. That includes $85 million in economic and development assistance, $40 million in security sector assistance, more than $20 million in food aid, in COVID-related humanitarian assistance, and $318 million to UNRWA.

"So we have worked in tangible ways to bring about an improvement of lives and livelihoods, and that’s something that we’ll continue to work on. Even as we’re in a period now where we have long been clear that negotiations towards a two-state solution aren’t on the table at the moment, our charge now and our focus is improving a standard of living as we keep that possibility of a negotiated two-state solution alive."

Price was also asked whether Israel's statements that it will act against Iran could complicate matters for the US and the other powers hoping to reach a diplomatic solution on the issue.

"The Israeli Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, said that Israel is accelerating operational preparedness to possible – for a possible strike against Iranian nuclear facilities and so on. Are such statements – can this – a statement like this complicate your effort to go back to the Vienna negotiation? How does that impact it?" one questioner queried.

In his answer, Price avoided mentioning Israel, saying, "We have been sincere and steadfast in our belief, in our statements, that we – in our confidence that a mutual return to compliance remains the most effective means by which to permanently and verifiably ensure that Iran is never able to acquire a nuclear weapon."

"We believe that a diplomatic outcome, a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or 'Iran deal' - ed.), is in America’s national interests, but it’s also in the interests of our partners and allies in the region to see to it that Iran is never in a position to acquire a nuclear weapon. That is why we continue to seek constructive engagement in Vienna, including when the talks resume later this month."