'Palestinian Authority isn't interested in making peace'

'Bibi Netanyahu is a terrific leader,' says Trump, but warns Israel 'must be careful with settlements.' 'Not sure peace talks will happen.'

David Rosenberg,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump refused to comment on the release of a much-anticipated US Middle East peace plan, suggesting that the Palestinian Authority was not interested in ending the conflict with Israel.

The president spoke with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom in an interview released Sunday, claiming that the PA was uninterested in making peace with Israel, while adding that he was unsure if Israel was committed to reaching a deal with the PA.

When asked when the US will unveil its peace plan, the president responded by saying: "We are going to see what goes on. Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace. And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace. So we are just going to have to see what happens."

“I don't know frankly if we are going to even have talks, we will see what happens, but I think it is very foolish for the Palestinians and I also think it would be very foolish for the Israelis if they don't make a deal. It's our only opportunity and it will never happen after this."

President Trump added that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria would be addressed by the peace plan, and urged Israel to be “very careful with the settlements”, arguing that they ‘complicate making peace’.

"We will be talking about settlements. The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements."

Despite his reservations about Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria, President Trump praised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling him a “terrific leader”.

"I think [US-Israel relations] are great. I think Bibi Netanyahu is a terrific person, a terrific leader, I think the relationships are good, but I think they will be a lot better if they ever get to making a peace deal."

Last week, the Netanyahu government backed a proposal to recognize Havat Gilad – a hitherto unauthorized outpost community in Samaria – as a full-fledged and officially-sanctioned town.

Once the process is completed Havat Gilad will be the second new town in Judea and Samaria to be recognized by the Netanyahu government after a quarter century freeze on recognition of new towns.

On Saturday, President Trump was quoted as saying in a teaser portion of the interview that his December 6th recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the high point of his first year in office.

"I think Jerusalem was a very big point. And I think it was a very important point. The capital, having Jerusalem be your great capital was a very important thing to a lot of people. I have been thanked and in some cases not thanked, to be 100% honest about it. But it was a very important pledge that I made and I fulfilled my pledge."