Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Trump Adopts a Harder Line on Israeli Settlements
President Trump, who presented himself as a staunch supporter of Israel during last year’s campaign, took a harder line on settlements in an interview published on Friday and indicated that he was rethinking his promise to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.
Mr. Trump told an Israeli newspaper that settlements “don’t help the process” and that he did not believe that “going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.” He also did not reaffirm his past vow to move the embassy, saying that it “is not an easy decision” and “we will see what happens.”
The comments amounted to a striking recalibration of Mr. Trump’s approach to Israel just five days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the White House.
Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, have been exploring an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative that would enlist Arab allies, and a host of Arab leaders have told the new president that provocative pro-Israel positions would not help.
The interview was conducted with Israel Hayom, the newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and close ally of Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Trump hosted Mr. Adelson and his wife for dinner at the White House on Thursday night, along with Mr. Kushner and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.
The president’s language in the interview went beyond the carefully written statement issued by the White House last week saying that settlements were not an impediment to peace but they “may not be helpful.” The statement was seen as a sign that Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Netanyahu to hold off contentious moves, at least until their meeting next week.
People forget that at the start of Trump's Presidential campaign he received a lot of flak for saying that he would not be doing any special favours for the Israelis. One must consider Trump's original position on a number of issues because he often hides his real intentions behind contradictory language. (This does not mean his positions are entirely inflexible - he is pragmatic.)
Trump’s message to both Israel and Palestinians: I’m in no one’s pocket
[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, February 14th, 2017.]