HomeNewsboxWorld Leaders Push Israel and Trump to Forge a 2-State Deal

World Leaders Push Israel and Trump to Forge a 2-State Deal

France held the first session of the conference in June, after the United States and others effectively gave up. Talks had broken down, and Mr. Netanyahu’s government had drawn international anger with its continued settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a red line for the process set out years before by Secretary of State John Kerry and other leaders.

The idea was to prevent the peace process from disappearing entirely from the international agenda, which was dominated by Syria, Ukraine and Libya, among other hot spots.

At the end of Sunday’s meeting, the countries issued a joint communiqué that reaffirmed support for a two-state solution — a Palestinian state existing next to Israel — and a return to the 1967 boundaries between the Israelis and Palestinians, including the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank. The statement referenced United Nations resolutions to that effect, including the condemnation of Israel in December, which the Obama administration declined to block, over its continuing settlement of the West Bank.

Most of these goals now seem starkly remote. Israel has continued to follow an aggressive policy of creating “facts on the ground” through continued settlement of land claimed by the Palestinians. The Palestinian side, at the same time, is hobbled by a divided leadership, with one wing, led by the militant group Hamas, still refusing to recognize Israel at all.

Although the meeting was called a conference, it was always framed more as a series of diplomatic meetings, since so many people would be in the room that any real negotiations seemed unlikely.

However, with the Israelis dismissing the meeting as “rigged” and refusing to send representatives, and with the Palestinians absent as well, it seemed even shakier than before. Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, said last week that the conference was “like a wedding with neither bride nor groom.”

The Israelis were reluctant to participate because they want a negotiation that primarily involves only the two principal parties: Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians have lost faith in bilateral talks and now prefer that any negotiation go on in an international forum, where they can have more leverage.

The Palestinians welcomed the conference’s final communiqué, and Dr. Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s secretary general, said in an emailed statement, “It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a country above the law and hold it accountable for its systematic violation of human rights and international law.”

In another sense, the meeting was also a last shot by a group of world leaders and diplomats who have driven the current peace process, fruitless though it has been, to preserve it in the face of major changes in the American delegation at the heart of the effort.

With Mr. Trump’s inauguration days away, his foreign policy is still mostly a matter of conjecture. But he has repeatedly signaled his displeasure with Mr. Obama’s approach toward Israel and the peace process.

Israeli officials clearly expect that the pressure to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians will ease once Mr. Trump is in office. Some seem to be counting the hours: After Mr. Trump’s election victory, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, exulted, “The era of a Palestinian state is over!”

While Mr. Trump has expressed a desire to make what he called the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, his staff has also reached out to the organization that represents the West Bank settlers, the Yesha Council. The council received multiple invitations to Mr. Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to a spokesman for the umbrella organization. A delegation led by Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy of the council and mayor of a large settlement, will be attending.

Perhaps the clearest signs of a coming change from the Americans are Mr. Trump’s personnel announcements: David M. Friedman, his nominee for ambassador to Israel and a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with Israel’s far right, has been an avid supporter of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu asserts that he still supports the principle of a Palestinian state — but on his terms, not those of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, whom many Israelis view as too weak to deliver. Mr. Netanyahu’s terms are unacceptable to the Palestinians, who are now looking to the United Nations and other international forums for intervention.

Despite the resigned expressions on the faces of many of the representatives as they left Sunday’s meeting — and Mr. Netanyahu’s declaration, according to Israeli news outlets, that the conference was the “final palpitations” of yesterday’s world — there has been no official death knell for a two-state solution. No one has yet put forward an alternative that seems likely to gain international support and ultimately offer both Israelis and Palestinians more safety.

Still, there was a sense on Sunday that the conference was the close of an era of negotiations, centered around the two-state principle, that was driven by the Obama administration, and Mr. Kerry in particular.

In contrast with his previous rebukes of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies, Mr. Kerry’s role on Sunday was more conciliatory.

He worked to soften language in the final communiqué and to reassert the United States’ support for Israel. The United States lobbied for language condemning acts of “violence and terror and incitement,” a reference to Palestinian attacks inside Israel. And over the weekend, Mr. Kerry called Mr. Netanyahu to assure him that the United States would not support a United Nations resolution in the wake of the Paris meeting.

Correction: January 16, 2017

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the two-state solution endorsed at the conference. Those attending the meeting repeated their support for the two-state solution; the proposal is not new.

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