Singaporean prime minister tells Netanyahu that he endorses ‘two-state solution’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 6:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 11:04pm

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, hosting a visit by his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Monday his country believes in a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lee explained his stand at a joint news briefing with Netanyahu, who does not endorse the two-nation approach. Lee said he realises a two-state solution is difficult to achieve, but said it is the only way to achieve peace. Netanyahu’s official visit is the first to Singapore by an Israeli head of government. Last year Lee became the first Singaporean prime minister to visit Israel.

Netanyahu referred to Singapore and Israel at the news conference as being “kindred spirits.” Both nations are small, with significant defence and high-tech industries. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1969, but have ties dating back to 1965, when Israeli military advisers covertly assisted Singapore after its declaration of independence.

Two-states solution the only way for peace in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says UN chief — but Trump disagrees

Acknowledging the “very complex situation” between Palestinians and Israel, Lee called for direct negotiations that will ensure “progress toward a just and durable solution to this long-standing and often, unfortunately violent conflict”.

“We have consistently believed that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, however hard to achieve, is the only way to bring peace and security to both peoples,” Lee said.

Netanyahu did not mention tensions in the Middle East in his remarks Monday, after which questions were not allowed.

What is the two-state solution and why is Donald Trump seeking a different path to Mideast peace?

The two-state approach, in which negotiations aim to lead to an independent Palestinian nation, has wide international support. It would likely require Israel to give up occupied territory that is strategically and religiously significant.

A two-state solution has anchored American diplomacy in the Middle East for two decades. When US President Donald Trump hosted Netanyahu last week, the American leader signalled a policy shift, saying both a two-state and a single-state solution should be considered.