President Donald Trump has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to curb settlement activity but avoided any explicit endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a longstanding bedrock of US Middle East policy.
The two leaders met face-to-face on Wednesday for the first time since Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election even as Palestinians urged the White House not to abandon their goal of an independent state.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Trump vowed to work toward a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians but said it would require compromise on both sides and it would be up to the parties themselves ultimately to reach an agreement."I'd like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit," Trump told Netanyahu. The right-wing Israeli leader later insisted that Jewish settlements were "not the core of the conflict" and made no commitment to reduce settlement building.
Trump echoed Netanyahu's calls for Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
But even as Trump promised to pursue peace between the two sides - who have had no substantive peace talks since 2014 - he offered no new prescriptions for unblocking the peace process.
Among the questions expected to figure prominently on the agenda was the future of the two-state solution - the idea of creating a Palestine living peacefully alongside Israel, which has been a bedrock US position.
In a potential shift, a senior White House official said on Tuesday that peace did not necessarily have to entail Palestinian statehood, and Trump would not try to "dictate" a solution.
Palestinians reacted with alarm to the possibility that Washington might ditch its support for an independent Palestinian nation.