>> A highly anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday taking place against the backdrop of what may be a significant shift in long standing American foreign policy. For over a decade, both Democratic and Republican candidates have said peace between Israelis and Palestinians included the formation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel with mutual recognition.
But a senior White House official on Tuesday saying that Palestinian statehood was not necessarily a condition for peace and that Trump would try not to, quote, dictate a solution. This setting off alarm bells among Palestinian officials, who have viewed Trump with trepidation since the beginning of his presidential campaign.
His rhetoric was relentlessly pro-Israel. He promised to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Palestinians also view as their capital. And selected as his envoy to Israel an ardent supporter of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The so-called two state solution envisaged by the Oslo Peace Accords in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton, was affirmed by Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama.
But Israel's Netanyahu and his right wing party have always been at best lukewarm on the idea of an independent Palestine, at times out right rejecting it. Israel's settlements on lands claimed by Palestinians a major sticking point between Netanyahu and Obama. And diplomatic relations between Israel and America sank to their lowest level in decades.
Just before Obama left office his U.N. representative abstained from a security council motion that called Israeli settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace. The meeting between Trump and Netanyahu Wednesday likely to emphasize an era of closer ties.