President Trump suggested half-jokingly to King Abdullah II of Jordan in a meeting earlier this year that if a one-state solution solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it could mean the prime minister of Israel will one day be named “Mohammed,” Axios reported Sunday.
The news outlet cited several sources briefed on the June 25 meeting between Trump and Abdullah at the White House. Abdullah reportedly relayed details of his talk with Trump to French leaders earlier this month.
French diplomats told Axios that Abdullah warned Trump that a one-state solution could cause Israel to “lose its Jewish character.”
Trump replied, in agreement, that a one-state solution could mean that “the prime minister of Israel in a few years will be called Mohammed,” the French diplomats told Axios. The president reportedly made the comment somewhat sarcastically.
The story was picked up by multiple Israel-based news outlets, including The Jerusalem Post and i24 News. Barak Ravid, who reported the story for Axios, is also a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 News.
The White House declined to comment to Axios on the meeting, noting that it does not disclose private conversations between the president and foreign leaders.
The comments come as the Trump administration continues to work on its Middle East peace plan, a long-awaited policy document spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt held meetings in June with the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, in what was widely perceived to be an attempt to drum up support for the plan.
Few details about the plan are available. Trump has in the past suggested he’d be open to either a one-state or two-state solution, depending on what Israeli and Palestinian leaders can agree to.
Trump provided few details to reporters about his Middle East peace plan during the June 25 meeting with Abdullah.
“A lot of progress has been made in the Middle East. A lot,” Trump said. “And it really started with the end of the horrible Iran deal. That deal was a disaster, and things are a lot different since we ended that. A lot different.”
Arab leaders have reportedly warned against releasing the peace plan in the near future, arguing it could further inflame tensions in the region.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas severed communications with the Trump administration in December, when the Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the U.S. would move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The city is a major sticking point in peace negotiations, as both Palestinians and Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital. European and Middle East leaders warned Trump against moving the embassy, explaining it could lead to violence in the region.
Dozens were killed and more than 1,000 wounded during an attempt by Palestinians to cross the border from Gaza to Israel in May ahead of the scheduled opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
BY BRETT SAMUELS – 08/19/18