Donald Trump welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory by underlining the personal alliance between the two men, tweeting a picture of people waving Trump banners at the Israeli leader’s celebrations.
As it became clear that Netanyahu would win a fifth term as prime minister, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was answering questions in the Senate about the US’s Middle East policy.
Raising the prospect of a radical change of policy in line with Netanyahu’s goals, Pompeo refused to commit the continuing longstanding US policy in support of two states for Israelis and Palestinians, and in opposition to Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
He said: “The old set of ideas are not worth retreading. They have not succeeded.
“I would argue that millions of man hours have been spent trying to build a two-state solution,” Pompeo told the Senate foreign relations committee. “It hasn’t worked to date.”
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Trump associated himself with Netanyahu’s win with a picture of Netanyahu supporters waving banners bearing the US president’s name.
Trump’s decision on 21 March to recognise the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967, was widely seen in Israel and the US as an effort to show support to Netanyahu in a tight election race. Trump denied he was trying to influence Israeli votes, and claimed to be unfamiliar with the details of the campaign.
Pompeo said a long-delayed US peace plan being devised by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the US special Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, would be unveiled soon, but suggested it would not be a detailed framework for resolving Israeli and Palestinian disputes.
“We have been working on a set of ideas we hope to present before too long that I hope will have sufficient force of intellect … that the Israelis and Palestinians will see value there,” Pompeo said. However, the secretary of state was elusive on the question of whether the US plan would have to be accepted by Palestinians for it to be considered acceptable.
Instead, he said: “For there to be peaceful resolution … I think the Israelis accept that the ultimate resolution is something that Palestinian people are going to have acknowledged makes sense.”