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UN chief backs two-state solution after US ditches support

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on February 10, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has underline the need for pursuing the so-called two-state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying there is "no alternative" to that option.

"There was a complete agreement" that a resolution of the conflict needs the "two state-solution and that everything must be done to preserve that possibility," Guterres said after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo on Wednesday.

For decades, successive US administrations have supported the so-called two-state solution, under which a Palestinian state would be formed. 

However, an unnamed White House official said on Tuesday that Washington would not insist on that option as the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“A two-state solution that doesn’t bring peace is not a goal... Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution, if that’s what the parties want, or something else," said the official, speaking anonymously.

The comments marked a significant shift in the US foreign policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Those seeking other options 'apartheid'

In response, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat denounced attempts on behalf of the Tel Aviv regime "to bury the two-state solution and eliminate the idea of the State of Palestine."

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Jericho on February 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

"Those who believe that they can undermine the two-state solution and replace it with what I call one state, two systems - maintaining the status quo now, are apartheid - I don't think in the 21st century they will get away with it,” he said.

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France stresses commitment to two-state solution

Separately on Wednesday, French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre described his country’s commitment to the two-state solution as "stronger than ever.”

France's Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre speaks to the media as he arrives to a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on February 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Referring to the Middle East Peace Conference held in Paris last month, he emphasized that the summit had reaffirmed support for a settlement that would see the creation of a Palestinian state.

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The developments come as US President Donald Trump, a pro-Israel figure, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet later on Wednesday for the first time since the US presidential election in November last year.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as its capital. 

In November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” despite strong opposition from Israel.

Palestine’s flag was also hoisted for the first time at the UN headquarters in New York in September 2015.

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