1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Middle East 'too important for Trump treatment'

Michael Knigge Kommentarbild App *PROVISORISCH*
Michael Knigge
February 15, 2017

US President Donald Trump is reportedly ready to back away from explicitly supporting a two-state solution as a means to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If true, that would be a worrying development.

USA Präsident Donald Trump
Image: picture-alliance/abaca/O. Olivier

Let's start out with two important qualifiers.

First, the news that the Trump administration is prepared to forego its official stance that the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians is the key framework to achieving piece in the Middle East is based on remarks by an unnamed source generally identified as a senior White House official.

If the statement does indeed reflect President Donald Trump's and his administration's view, and it may well do so, then it would signal a significant shift in US Middle East policy, reversing decades of bipartisan consensus.

But if we have learned one thing from Donald Trump's campaign and his early tenure as president, then it is that voiced views and perspectives even on key issues can change quickly and often. 

Michael Knigge Kommentarbild App

Follow up

That's why it is important to not only observe what President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to say on the issue after their meeting today, but also to see how and whether this reported verbal shift is translated into actual policy.    

Second, it is equally important to note that the concept of the two-state solution, the internationally-favored idea to achieve Middle East peace since 1967 and a long-standing pillar of US foreign policy, has not exactly been a shining success until now for various reasons. After all, if it had been, we would not be taking about it more than 40 years after it was deemed the preferred modus operandi to untie the Gordian knot that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Having said all that, it would still be highly disconcerting if President Trump were in fact ready to ditch the two-state solution as the key US policy concept for the simple reason that practically all the new administration has proven so far is that it is willing to demolish existing rules and policy without having thought through how to replace them.

Act first, think later

That, in a nutshell, sums up the tenure of the Trump administration so far. The continuing chaos over President Trump's travel ban and the promised replacement of Barack Obama's healthcare reform are two prime examples of this administration's early tendency to act quickly and think about it later.

But if there is a region in the world where the tendency to rash action is not only misplaced, but could have potentially disastrous consequences, it is the Middle East. Nowhere else does former US Secretary of State Colin Powell's famous Pottery Barn rule apply more than here: you break it, you own it.

Again, that does not mean that the two-state solution has been a success. But it does mean that the Trump administration's behavior on the global stage so far has not inspired the international confidence necessary to tinker with an intractable issue like Middle East peace, certainly not without a clear plan that stands a realistic chance of improving the status quo.