Trump: Israeli Settlements Should ‘Keep Moving Forward’
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said Israel should not pause with building Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a precursor to peace negotiations.
“No, I don’t think there should be a pause” in construction of new settlements, Trump told the Daily Mail in an exclusive interview on May 3. “Look: Missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country. I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?”
The Obama administration has successfully forced Israel’s hand to stop the building of new settlements in 2009 in an effort to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Trump disagrees with the position.
“They [the Israelis] really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward,” he said.
Republican supporters of Israel have raised concern about Trump’s previous insistence to remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a position he said would make him a better negotiator. The issue came to a head during one of the GOP debate last February.
At the same time, Trump lavished praise for Israel a support for the policies of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and trashing the Obama administration’s Iran nuke deal.
In January, Trump vowed to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The Zionist Organization of America praised Trump’s stance on May 6, calling it “refreshing.”
“The true obstacles to peace are: Palestinian Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state,” ZOA president Morton Klein said, “their horrifying Jew-hatred; their demand for a Jew-free Palestinian state.”
Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, whose donations to Republican candidate hinge on their support for Israel, said he is now willing to donate US$100 million to Trump’s presidential campaign, the New York Times reported on May 13.
Trump’s likely Democrat Party rival Hillary Clinton has a more complicated view on the issue. As Secretary of State, she implemented Obama administration policy to get Israel to halt the building of West Bank settlements.
“We want to see a stop to [Israeli] settlement construction, additions, natural growth – any kind of settlement activity,” Clinton told Al Jazeera in 2009. “That is what the president has called for.”
In 2013, after Netanyahu announced the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem, Clinton called the move “insulting.”
“We have to make clear to our Israeli friends and partner that the two-state solution which we support, which the prime minister himself said he supports, requires confidence-building measures on both sides,” she said then.
But in her 2009 book Hard Choices, Clinton admits that “in retrospect, our early, hard line on settlements didn’t work.”
During her speech at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference last March, Clinton accused Trump of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“American can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival,” Clinton said. “Some things aren’t negotiable.”