US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he believes that the two-state solution “works best”, in what was a first public endorsement of the idea since entering the White House.
The remarks, which were made during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, shed light on the possible basis of a long-awaited peace initiative to be launched by the US administration between Israel and the Palestinians.
"I like a two state solution. That's what I think works best ... That's my feeling," said Trump.
Trump also said he wanted to unveil a peace plan in the next two to three months.
"It is a dream of mine to get that done prior to the end of my first term," Trump said. "I don't want to do it in my second term. We'll do other things in my second term," he said. "I think a lot of progress has been made. I think that Israel wants to do something and I think that the Palestinians actually want to do something."
Concluding his opening statement before the floor was open toquestions from journalists, Trump said: “We are with you. We are with Israel 100%.”
Netanyahu has said that any future Palestinian state must be demilitarized and must recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
"I really believe something will happen. They say it's the toughest of all deals," Trump said.
Asked what Israel might have to give up in return for the embassy's move to Jerusalem, Trump replied: "I took probably the biggest chip off the table and so obviously we have to make a fair deal, we have to do something. Deals have to be good for both parties ... Israel got the first chip and it's a big one."
Trump gave his endorsement of the two-state solution moments after Netanyahu praised the American-Israeli alliance as never being stronger “under your leadership.”
“I want to thank you for the extraordinary support that you have shown for Israel in this building in the UN. No one has backed Israel like you do and we appreciate it," Netanyahu told the president in his opening remarks.
“This it the first time we are meeting after the American Embassy has been moved to Jerusalem," he added. "You’ve changed history and you've touched our hearts."
Trump's statement also comes in stark contrast to the response given to whether he supports the two-state solution during a meeting between the two leader in Washington in February 2017 when he avoided explicitly backing the idea.
"I'm looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like," he said at the time.
On Tuesday, Trump indicated in a speech to the UN General Assembly that his peace initiative was moving away from the two-state solution.
“America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years time and time again,” he said in a 35-minute speech.
Speaking shortly after Trump, Jordan’s King Abdullah told the UN General Assembly that “only” a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinain state could produce comprehensive peace deal between Israel and Palestinians.
The sentiment of clinging to the two-state solution was then echoed by Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Sisi at the UN.
Doubts have mounted over whether Trump's administration can secure what he has called the "ultimate deal" since December, when the US president recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and then moved the US Embassy there.
"It is a dream of mine to get that done prior to the end of my first term," Trump said of an agreement on the conflict.
Jerusalem is one of the major issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides claim it as a capital. Trump's move outraged the Palestinians, who have since boycotted Washington's peace efforts, led by Trump's son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner.
Reuters contributed to this report.