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February 16, 2017 7:52 am

Trump’s ‘Shocking’ Announcement Not So Surprising

avatar by Yarden Frankl

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at Wednesday's White House press conference. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at Wednesday’s White House press conference. Photo: Screenshot.

Reporting on President Trump’s press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The New York Times wrote:

Mr. Trump’s comments were a striking departure from two decades of diplomatic orthodoxy, and they raised a host of thorny questions about the viability of his position.

The Washington Post wrote:

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President Trump backed away on Wednesday from long-standing US support for the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel, potentially signaling the death of a fundamental strategy of past Middle East peace negotiations, even as Trump said he wants to try his hand at a new deal.

The Associated Press said:

Charting a striking new course for the Middle East, President Donald Trump on Wednesday withheld clear support for an independent Palestine and declared he could endorse a one-nation solution to the long and deep dispute between Palestinians and Israel.

Across the board, the big story that came out of the President’s meeting with Netanyahu was that the US had backed away from the two-state solution, a bedrock policy goal of the US for decades.

But was that really what happened?

If you take the editorializing out of the articles, what Trump said was neither surprising nor representative of any tremendous change in policy.

He said that while he preferred a two-state solution, which would be easier, if the parties agreed to a one-state alternative, he could live with that. In other words, if Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement that declared there would be one sovereign state in Israel and the disputed territories, he would not object.

Notwithstanding that it is an extremely unlikely outcome, would President Obama have put a stop to such an agreement? Would the EU, or the UN, or anyone?

There are many proposals outside of the two-state solution. Five of them are articulated here. But the most important point President Trump made was that for him to accept a one-state plan, both sides would have to agree to it.

Think about it. Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas reach a peace agreement and put their names on a deal to end the conflict once and for all. Is it reasonable to believe that any US President would say, “Wait a minute. No good. You need to have two states.”

For decades, the US’ goal has been a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. While the US has believed that the way to reach that goal was through two sovereign states, it was always thought that an agreement could only come through direct negotiations, not an outside party imposing a solution.

The real departure from decades of US policy was the Obama administration’s seeming attempt to force a solution on Israel by pushing for a settlement freeze. Or perhaps another was President George W. Bush’s letter saying that the major settlement blocks would be incorporated into Israel.

Now, US policy has returned to letting the two parties work out an agreement by themselves.

So why the almost uniform reporting of the “shocking” Trump statement? The media has painted a picture of the president as someone both extreme and uninformed. But the facts should always lead the analysis.

The media must report every event independently and not be led astray by preconceived notions.

Read more about media coverage of Israel at The CAMCI.report.

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  • Ideally, facts should always lead the analysis, and media must report every event independently. The media is led astray by preconceived notions because many so-called journalists no longer report the news, but make it. When it comes to reporting on Israel, most of the coverage has a bias against Israel. The media is usually shocked when a politician makes a candid announcement. It’s refreshing to hear to it.

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