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How The Trump And Netanyahu Meeting Is Playing In The Middle East


President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday that he is not committed to a state for the Palestinians. Trump said he isn't opposed either. NPR's Joanna Kakissis has been listening to reaction in Jerusalem.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: U.S. presidents have endorsed the two-state solution for nearly 16 years but not Donald Trump.

ALON PINKAS: Basically, Trump said, guys, you know, I'm not that interested.

KAKISSIS: That's Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat. He says the pro-settlement right wing in Israel was hoping Trump would give them carte blanche in the West Bank.

PINKAS: That would terrify Netanyahu because the last thing he wants to do is to go against the entire international community.

KAKISSIS: Trump told Netanyahu to back off expanding settlements in the West Bank, which the U.N. says are illegal. Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, says they're blocking the establishment of a Palestinian state.

SAEB EREKAT: I told Benjamin Netanyahu, who I've known for 31 years, face to face, the choice is yours. Settlements or peace - you can't have both.

KAKISSIS: Diana Buttu is a former adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

DIANA BUTTU: This leadership is a leadership that is what I call, like, a one-trick pony, and the one trick is negotiations. And it's been like negotiations till death.

KAKISSIS: She says Palestinians should press for equal rights in one secular democratic state where Jews could soon find themselves in the minority. Joanna Kakissis, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: February 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous Web version of this story misspelled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's last name.
Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.