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The Worst Statements Made at Trump-Netanyahu Press Conference

posted on: Feb 16, 2017

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

President Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Wednesday. At a press conference, the two leaders addressed multiple issues, including: solutions to the decades long Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Israel’s growing settlement activity; the Iran nuclear deal and Israel’s security; and treatment of Israel by the international community.

The press conference began with President Trump calling Israel an oppressed state. He applauded Israel’s ability to persevere “in the face of hostility” and maintain an “open democracy in the face of violence.”

President Trump went on to add that Israel and the U.S are united by not only their democratic values, but also their love for the “value of all human life” – an ironic statement both Americans and Palestinians were shocked to hear.

President Trump then used those values to argue that Israel has been treated unfairly by the United Nations and “other international forms, including boycotts.” According to President Trump, Israel is being wrongfully singled out by the international community, which openly objects to Israel’s human rights abuses and international law violations.

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His unwavering support for Israel may not have as much power, though, if President Trump’s plans to provide far less financial aid to the United Nations are approved. Without financial power over the General Assembly, the U.S. may not be able to fully protect Israel within the international organization.

Additionally, President Trump may place the U.S. in a less powerful position at the negotiating table between Israel and Palestine. During the press conference, President Trump said the U.S. would encourage a peace deal, but that “it’s the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement.”

In breaking orthodoxy, Trump then suggested, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like.” The newly elected president also suggested that he could “live with either” the two or one state solutions, sending shockwaves throughout the media.

Since the Clinton administration, the U.S. State Department has supported a two-state solution. This is also the solution favored by Palestinians, who are vying for a free and sovereign nation separate from Israeli control.

President Trump believes, however, that in order for any deal to be reached, there must be compromises from both sides.

“As with any agreement, both sides will have to make compromises,” the president said turning to Mr. Netanyahu. “You know that, right?”

Mr. Netanyahu’s reaction to Trump’s gesture indicated that he was not aware of the answer to that question. Regardless, it’s unlikely that President Trump will truly expect compromises, given his understanding of Palestinians and their culture.

“The Palestinians have to get rid of some of the hate that they’re taught from a very young age. They’re taught tremendous hate,” President Trump said in regards to Palestinian compromise. “It starts at a very young age and it starts in a school room. And they have to acknowledge Israel. They’re going have to do that.”

President Trump completely defamed Palestinians when he spoke about their role in the negotiation process. It was as if Mr. Netanyahu himself wrote the words. Both leaders used the press conference to perpetuate the myth that Palestinians are taught to hate Jews, when in reality, nothing is taught. Any child, no matter where they live, who grows up in poverty and occupation with zero opportunities is likely to criticize their occupier.

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Also speaking on the possibility of a two-state solution, Mr. Netanyahu clearly stated that it would not happen without Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The Israeli leader emphasized that if there are to be two states, Israel has to have total control over security in the region, “otherwise we’ll get another failed state, another terrorist, Islamic dictatorship that will not work for peace, but will work to destroy us.”

The comment was another blow to Palestinians. Americans and Israelis currently dominate the narrative surrounding Palestinian identity and behavior, leaving no room for Palestinians to enter the conversation and represent their own views, which is how heads of state can spread libelous information without question.

The press conference came a day after Sean Spicer released a statement from the White House, saying: “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

President Trump also touched on the issue of settlements at the press conference, saying that he would “like to see [Netanyahu] hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

Mr. Netanyahu, on the contrary, does not believe the settlements are at the “core” of the conflict or that they “drive the conflict.”

“I think it’s an issue that has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations,” the Israeli leader said, but did not mention in what ways such a resolution could happen.

Since Trump took office, Israel has announced 5,500 new settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – one of the highest numbers in recent history. The White House is not explicitly disapproving of the settlement activity, unlike the three presidents before Trump, indicating that the new president is either: softly approving the settlements; simply uninterested in the outcome of the colonization project; or he has yet to formulate a concrete policy towards Israel.

Despite this policy uncertainty felt Americans, Mr. Netanyahu is under the belief that “there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than Donald Trump.”