US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Moralizer in Chief? (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Americans are open to candidates of faith. Less so to any hint they might impose their moral views if they're elected, argues Kimberley A. Strassel.

2. Gulf War III isn't an option (Washington Post)

Attacking Iran would not be a wise move, writes Eugene Robinson.

3. Obama's Iran options (Washington Post)

If negotiations fail, containment will not work, says Michael Gerson.

4. Santorum's faith is too extreme (Boston Globe) ($)

Although Rick Santorum says he's not running for pastor-in-chief, the Republican primary campaign has revealed a candidate too governed by faith to lead a diverse country, argues Scot Lehigh.

5. The enduring fallacy of the CEO president (Politico)

Is it safe to assume that a successful CEO is uniquely prepared to be president? Asks John Paul Rollert.

6. America Is Europe (New York Times)

The U.S. does not have a significantly smaller welfare state than the European nations. We're just better at hiding it, writes David Brooks.

7. In praise of war correspondents (Los Angeles Times)

The deaths of Marie Colvin, Anthony Shadid and other journalists is tragic. But to pull back from war zones would leave untold the stories that must be chronicled, says Timothy M. Phelps.

8. Romney's tax plan follows Reagan's vision (Washington Examiner)

Mitt Romney took an immensely positive step earlier this week when he announced a proposal to cut tax rates 20 percent for all individual taxpayers, says this editorial.

9. The elderly should share the burden (Tampa Bay Times)

One hallmark of the Obama administration's budget policy has been to exempt the elderly from major cuts, writes Robert Samuelson.

10. Marriage equality working way toward Supreme Court (San Francisco Chronicle)

Courtrooms across the country are sending an unmistakable message: Laws barring equal treatment of same sex couples are unconstitutional, says this editorial.

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On the "one-state" solution to Israel and Palestine, what did Donald Trump mean?

The US President seemed to dismantle two decades of foreign policy in his press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu. 

If the 45th President of the United States wasn’t causing enough chaos at home, he has waded into the world’s most intricate conflict – Israel/Palestine. 

Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump made an apparently off-the-cuff comment that has reverberated around the world. 

Asked what he thought about the future of the troubled region, he said: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like.”

To the uninformed observer, this comment might seem fairly tame by Trump standards. But it has the potential to dismantle the entire US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Trump said he could "live with" either a two-state or one-state solution. 

The "two-state solution" has become the foundation of the Israel-Palestine peace process, and is a concept that has existed for decades. At its simplest, it's the idea that an independent state of Palestine can co-exist next to an independent Israel. The goal is supported by the United Nations, by the European Union, by the Arab League, and by, until now, the United States. 

Although the two-state solution is controversial in Israel, many feel the alternative is worse. The idea of a single state would fuel the imagination of those on the religious right, who wish to expand into Palestinian territory, while presenting liberal Zionists with a tricky demographic maths problem - Arabs are already set to outnumber Jews in Israel and the occupied territories by 2020. Palestinians are divided on the benefits of a two-state solution. 

I asked Yossi Mekelberg, Professor of International Relations at Regent's University and an associate fellow at Chatham House, to explain exactly what went down at the Trump-Netanyahu press conference:

Did Donald Trump actually mean to say what he said?

“Generally with President Trump we are into an era where you are not so sure whether it is something that happens off the hoof, that sounds reasonable to him while he’s speaking, or whether maybe he’s cleverer than all of us put together and he's just pretending to be flippant. It is so dramatically opposite from the very professorial Barack Obama, where the words were weighted and the language was rich, and he would always use the right word.” 

So has Trump just ditched a two-state solution?

“All of a sudden the American policy towards the Israel-Palestine conflict, a two-state solution, isn’t the only game in town.”

Netanyahu famously didn’t get on with Obama. Is Trump good news for him?

“He was quite smug during the press conference. But while Netanyahu wanted a Republican President, he didn’t want this Republican. Trump isn’t instinctively an Israel supporter – he does what is good for Trump. And he’s volatile. Netanyahu has enough volatility in his own cabinet.”

What about Trump’s request that Netanyahu “pull back on settlements a little bit”?

“Netanyahu doesn’t mind. He’s got mounting pressure in his government to keep building. He will welcome this because it shows even Trump won’t give them a blank cheque to build.”

Back to the one-state solution. Who’s celebrating?

“Interestingly, there was a survey just published, the Palestinian-Israel Pulse, which found a majority of Israelis and a large minority of Palestinians support a two-state solution. By contrast, if you look at a one-state solution, only 36 per cent of Palestinians and 19 per cent of Israel Jews support it.”

 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.