US President Donald Trump said in an interview published Friday that the expansion of the Israeli settlements “is not good for peace,” his first position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since he came to the White House.
“I am not someone who thinks that the expansion of the colonies is good for peace,” Trump said in an interview published in Hebrew by the Israeli free newspaper Israel Hayom, a few days before receiving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.
Trump evoked the few lands still available to the colonies, implying that his administration could accept the construction of new dwellings but only in the colonies that already exist.
Netanyahu, who will be in Washington on 15 February is facing pressure from settlers and their more conservative political rivals who are in favor of accelerating Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, annexing the West Bank and denouncing the settlement of the two state.
After 70 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump said “wanting peace” and said he wants a deal that is “good for all parties.” But Israelis and Palestinians have to be “reasonable,” Sheldon Adelson, one of Netanyahu’s supporters, told the newspaper.
Trump’s arrival at the White House was seen by Netanyahu as a “formidable opportunity” after eight years of “huge pressures” from the Obama administration.
According to Naftali Bennett, one of the heavyweights of the most conservative governments that Israel has had, with the arrival of Trump would abandon the idea of creating a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu, politically pressured and facing suspected corruption, announced the construction of 5,000 new homes in the West Bank colonies as well as the creation of a new government-run colony in more than 20 years.
He also supported a controversial law authorizing the state to declare Israeli land as private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank where the Israelis built without authorization.
Much of the international community believes that Israeli colonization, illegal under international law, is the main obstacle to peace.
Trump also said he is studying “very seriously” the transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but has not yet made a decision.
“I am studying the issue and we will see what happens,” he said, explaining that it is not an “easy” decision and that he is thinking “very seriously.”
During the campaign Trump promised to move the US representation to Jerusalem, a decision that would mark a historic break with US policy and a large part of the international community, which considers that the Jerusalem statute – also claimed by the Palestinians as the capital of Its future state-has to be decided through negotiations.
In case of a transfer, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that “the Palestine Liberation Organization, considered by the international community as a representative of all Palestinians, might fail to recognize Israel”.
“Netanyahu is to meet Sunday with his restricted cabinet to agree on the positions he will present to Trump next week on Iran, the conflict with the Palestinians and the colonies”, the Israeli press said.