It is time for the United States to signal what it hopes to achieve in its efforts to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process.  Following Jared Kushner’s latest visit to the region this week, Israel Policy Forum (IPF) calls on the Administration not only to endorse the vision of a two-state solution but also to provide meaningful support for pragmatic policies to advance it.

After months of consultations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Trump Administration’s continued refusal to publicly endorse the goal of a two-state solution is very troubling. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert’s explanation this week “to not really bias one side over the other,” is confounding.  At this juncture, refraining from endorsing a two-state solution only demonstrates American bias in favor of those who are opposed to the two-state goal and undermines the Administration’s efforts to promote peace and security in the region. 

The early focus of the Trump Administration on this issue, and its engaging with both parties in a deliberate manner, has been laudable. IPF recognizes that given the current political circumstances in Ramallah and Jerusalem, a quick resumption of negotiations could create unrealistic expectations and lead to yet another peacemaking failure that the region cannot afford.  

Yet, the continued lack of a coherent vision for the ultimate goal of U.S. diplomatic efforts will only diminish the ability of the U.S. to press the parties to take positive steps to improve the economic, security and political environment.  Even worse, the absence of U.S. leadership may incentivize negative actions by both sides that would be inconsistent with the two-state vision and would risk driving the parties towards further violent conflict.

In recent years, the two-state solution has been under assault from terror organizations such as Hamas, far-left activists, and right-wing elements in Israel, including members of the governing coalition. Nauert’s statement, if it in fact reflects a new U.S. policy, represents an abdication of U.S. leadership and a gift to those rejectionists. 

The vision as outlined by President George W. Bush to achieve “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” has for years been the consensus position of the United States and the international community.  The United States will be unable to mobilize meaningful Arab support for peace without clearly endorsing this two-state vision.  The overwhelming consensus within Israel’s security establishment is that without separation from the Palestinians and the eventual establishment of two states, Israel’s security – as well as its national character as both a Jewish and democratic state – will be placed at greater risk. 

IPF continues to support the United States’ engagement to advance a realistic peace between Israel and the Palestinians and urges the Trump Administration to articulate support for the goal of two states. 

Susie Gelman, Chair
David Halperin, Executive Director