The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: What you need to know
Updated 9:58 AM ET, Wed May 3, 2017
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Back in February, Trump appeared to toss aside five decades of US policy on the subject, indicating that he is willing to explore all avenues to strike what he has described as the "ultimate deal" for peace in the region.
What's new with Trump's approach?
For decades, US presidents have insisted that a two-state solution was the only way to bring lasting peace to the Middle East.
But Trump signaled a break from his predecessors during a February 15 press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.
"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like ... I can live with either one," Trump told reporters.
His comments have given fuel to the growing interest in a one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as negotiations to create a sovereign Palestinian state have achieved little in recent years.
Trump also called for an Arab-backed peace process -- an idea that's been periodically revived over the past two decades without producing results. But such a process insists on a sovereign Palestinian state.
What is the two-state solution?
The idea of the two-state solution sounds simple enough -- an Israeli state next to a Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace.
The two-state solution has been the goal of the international community for decades, dating back to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and many nations say that it is the only way out of the conflict.
It would recognize a 1967 demarcation line known as the Green Line to partition Palestinian and Israeli land, subject to land swaps based on negotiations, and it would divide Jerusalem between the two states.
Netanyahu endorsed the idea of two states in 2009 under pressure from the Obama administration, but he sidestepped questions at the joint press conference in February about whether he still supports it.
He said instead he wanted to avoid "labels" and talk "substance" -- the need for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and the need for Israel to have overriding security control.
What would a one-state solution look like?
From Israel's perspective, a one-state solution means it would annex either part or all of the West Bank and Gaza.
But this forces Israel to make a decision given there are approximately an equal number of Jews and Arabs throughout Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
If Israel gives Palestinians a right to vote, then Jews would soon be a minority since the Arab population is growing faster as a demographic than the Jewish population.
If Israel doesn't give Palestinians the right to vote, Israel would remain a Jewish state but would no longer be a democracy. Israel's critics say it would become an apartheid state, with one set of rights for Israelis and another set for Palestinians.
What are the main sticking points in resolving the conflict?
Progress has been far from easy and has stalled in recent years.
The most recent round of negotiations fell apart in April 2014 with Israeli and Palestinian leaders blaming each other. The two sides have failed to come to an agreement over several issues central to the solution.
Both claim parts, if not all, of the holy city of Jerusalem as their capital. They dispute where to draw borders and they continue to clash over Israeli settlements in occupied territory.
In addition, what happens to the Palestinian refugees who fled what is now Israel after the 1948 war is a point of contention. The UN estimates that there are 700,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.
Why are settlements a problem?
Settlements are Israeli cities, towns and villages in the occupied West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. They are considered settlements and not Israeli residential areas because Israel is widely considered to be an occupying force in the territories.
It is land that Palestinians, along with the international community, view as territory for a future Palestinian state.
Early in Trump's presidency, Israel announced thousands of new settlement homes. Then in March, Israel approved construction of the first new West Bank settlement in 20 years.
At their White House meeting in February, Trump toed the line on settlements by sticking with the position of previous US administrations. He called on Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a little bit," and his administration later said the new construction plans were unhelpful to the peace process.
Who has Trump tapped to orchestrate a deal?
Trump has chosen several diplomatic rookies to help navigate the mission for peace.
Trump appointed his New York bankruptcy lawyer, David Friedman, for the role of US ambassador to Israel, and appointed a former Trump business lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, as Middle East envoy.
The President has also given a central role to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who, like Trump, is a real estate developer.
How likely is an agreement?
Abbas' invitation to the White House will be his first opportunity to get a read of the new US President and get a feel for the prospects of a peace deal.
Abbas' aides are also optimistic that Trump will offer a fresh approach after little progress was made during the Barack Obama years.
"The difference with President Trump is that he himself and the White House is engaged. It's not the State Department," said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a Fatah Central Committee member and presidential adviser.
But it is unlikely that a majority of Palestinians would approve of a one-state solution, which they believe would increase Israel's control of contested territory.
So who would support one state?
Virtually the entire international community supports a two-state solution. In the Middle East, most countries support the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, put forward by Saudi Arabia. The initiative was adopted unanimously by the Arab League.
But there are also militant factions that reject Israel's right to exist and support a one-state solution -- but one called Palestine, not Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza have both called for the destruction of Israel.
Many in Israel's right-wing support a one-state solution -- they envisage that state as a Jewish state. While some are willing to give the Palestinians full citizenship and equal rights, others would confer upon the Palestinians a lesser autonomy. Palestinians, who have their own national aspirations, criticize the latter system as akin to apartheid.
Many Israelis and Palestinians on the far-left -- as well as far-left Europeans and Americans -- also support a one-state solution, but in a very different form. They envision a secular state for all citizens, regardless of religion, culture or ethnicity. Most Israelis recoil at this idea because it's seen as removing the Jewish character of the country and a way of eliminating the state of Israel by non-military means.
Some Palestinians who prefer the one-state solution are frustrated with the failure of the Oslo Peace Accords and see no hope in continued peace negotiations. They feel the international community is not taking concrete steps in changing the reality after nearly 50 years of Israel's military occupation of the West Bank. They would rather force Israel to take full responsibility for security in the West Bank, as was the case before the Oslo accords.