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:
President Trump backed away on Wednesday from long-standing U.S. 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 Trump was:
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 U.S. had backed away from the two state solution, a bedrock policy goal of the U.S. 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 2 state solution, and while it 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 that President Trump said 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 Palestinian President Abbas reach a peace agreement and put their names on a deal to end the conflict for once and all. Is it reasonable to believe that any U.S. President would say “Wait a minute. No good. You need to have two states.”
For decades, the U.S. goal has been a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. While the U.S. 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 U.S. policy was when it seemed that the Obama Administration was seeking to force a solution on Israel by pushing for a settlement freeze.
Or perhaps another departure was when President Bush wrote a letter saying that the major settlement blocks would be incorporated into Israel.
These are real changes in that they were made by the United States, not the actual parties to the negotiations.
Now, U.S. policy has returned to letting the two parties work out an agreement.
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.
This article originally appeared in the Algemeiner.