New Hopes for Two-State Solution

The hope lies in the fact that the current administration, unlike any other administration since 1948, actually appears to be serious about doing what it takes to get a two-state solution, as indicated by George Mitchell’s firm statement, “A two-state solution is the only solution,” while visiting the West Bank on Friday.

The U.S. Middle East envoy says the Obama administration will exert “great energy” in pursuit of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Envoy George Mitchell says a comprehensive Middle East peace is not only in the interests of Israel, the Palestinians and other countries in the region, but is also important to the United States and people around the world.

He spoke after meeting Saturday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, the latest stop on his Middle East tour.

An Egyptian state-run news agency (MENA) quotes Mr. Mubarak as saying there is no alternative to the two-state solution.

While the United States has been promoting the two-state solution, Israel’s new government has expressed concerns about the idea of Palestinian statehood.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favors improving economic conditions in the Palestinian territories over conceding land and other previously agreed to aspects of the peace process.

He has also called on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.  Palestinian leaders refuse to do so, in recognition of the 20 percent of the Israeli population that is Arab.

In the West Bank Friday, Mitchell said a “two-state solution is the only solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He spoke after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials.

Mitchell also asserted that Israel’s insistence that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state as a precondition for a Palestinian state “is uacceptable to the United States.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a condition for renewing peace talks is unacceptable to the United States, the State Department said during special envoy George Mitchell’s visits over the weekend to Ramallah and Cairo.

The State Department released statements saying that the United States would continue to promote a two-state solution. In Ramallah, Mitchell met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mitchell’s talks also seem to indicate that the United States does not accept Netanyahu’s position that the renewal of negotiations should be postponed until the Iranian nuclear threat is removed. While Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak has not spoken publicly on the issue, his associates said Saturday he is obligated to the party platform, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. The platform does not mention Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for establishing a Palestinian state.

Barak also reportedly opposes linking the renewal of the peace process with the Iranian threat and supports a regional peace agreement that includes dealing with that threat.

“Another sign of the Obama administration’s readiness to put pressure on the Israelis,” writes Philip Weiss.

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