Michael Oren
Michael OrenFlash90

An Israeli lawmaker and former ambassador to the US played down recent comments by President Donald Trump regarding the “price” Israel would have to pay in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, calling the Trump White House the “friendliest” administration Israel has ever known.

On Tuesday night, President Trump told supporters at a rally in West Virginia that he expected Israel would have to pay a “higher price” in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority following America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, and the subsequent relocation of the US embassy.

"If there's ever going to be peace with the Palestinians, then this was a good thing to have done," Trump said on the embassy move. "We took it off the table. In past negotiations, they never got past Jerusalem becoming the capital. So I said 'let's take it off the table'. And you know what? In the negotiations, Israel will have to pay a higher price, because they won a very big thing. But I took it off the table."

"But they [the Palestinian Authority] will get something very good next, because it's their turn next. We'll see what happens. It's very interesting."

While the comment led some Israeli lawmakers to express concern, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren (Kulanu) played down the president’s remarks, calling his administration the “friendliest” Israel has ever known.

“As a businessman, President Trump expects both sides to make concessions – including painful ones, Oren, who previously served as Israel’s ambassador to the US, said in a statement Wednesday. “He also will take either side to task if they leave the negotiating table.”

Israel, Oren added, she bear in mind the strong support the Trump administration has shown regarding Israel’s security concerns, and must maintain a positive relationship with the president.

“This is the friendliest government we have ever known, which is standing by us on issues critical to our security like Iran, Syria, Gaza, and the United Nations. Therefore, Israel ought to have an open mind regarding any [peace] plan he offers, keeping an eye on our general strategic position. Israel should say ‘yes’, or at least, ‘yes, but’, and let the Palestinians be the ones saying no for a change.”

Oren also responded to a statement by National Security Advisor John Bolton Wednesday morning that the Trump administration was not currently weighing the possibility of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The former ambassador said he was not surprised by Bolton’s comments, adding that “recognition of Israeli sovereignty will come as a result of facts on the ground, not the other way around.”

“Following the many contacts I’ve had with the administration, I’ve learned that the Americans prefer us to focus on developing the Heights, rather than recognition.”

Oren said the time was ripe for the Israeli government to adopt his proposed plan to encourage massive settlement of the Golan Heights.

“The plan which I am pushing… the first serious plan dealing with the Golan in 50 years, calls for the development of the area and the settling of 100,000 Israelis,” in the Golan.

“That would make the [Golan] an integral part of the State of Israel.”