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Palestinian president urges protection of two-state solution

GENEVA (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday urged the international community to protect the two-state solution, in a message aimed at Israel and the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump.

At a White House meeting earlier this month, both Trump and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to back away from the internationally supported idea of the establishment of an independent Palestine alongside Israel.

In an address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Abbas called on states that believe in two states “to come to the defense of that solution” and recognize the state of Palestine.

“This solution must be protected from any attempt to withdraw from it or simply disregard it,” he said.

The international community, including the U.S., has long supported the idea of a two-state solution as the best way to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In January, dozens of countries reiterated their support for this goal at an international conference in France, days before Trump took office.

But at a joint press conference with Trump on Feb. 15, Netanyahu made no mention of the two-state solution. Instead, he talked of searching for “new ways” forward, including a regional approach involving other Arab countries.

Trump, meanwhile, said he could favor any agreement between the parties, including a single Israeli-Palestinian state, a solution that neither side favors. He also referred to a “much bigger deal” involving “many countries.”

Abbas said he is ready to work in a “positive spirit” with Trump, but rejected the idea of an interim agreement or single state.

“We should no longer be speaking of integrating Palestine within a larger regional framework and that is precisely what the government of Israel is attempting to do by withdrawing from progress previously achieved,” he said.

He also denounced Israel’s settlement activity on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians and Israel’s passage this month of a law meant to retroactively legalize thousands of West Bank settlement homes built unlawfully on private Palestinian land.

He said the law “legitimizes the theft of occupied Palestinian lands.”

Abbas also cautioned against the transfer of any embassy to Jerusalem, a scenario raised by Trump.

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