Donald Trump, if elected as president in the fall, would likely support Israeli annexation of large settlement blocs in the West Bank if the stalemate in the peace process persists, Trump’s Israel advisor David Friedman told Jewish Insider on Thursday.
“My expectation is that if no agreement is reached by the parties, these areas (and perhaps others) will eventually be annexed by Israel,” Friedman said. “While I have not dealt with Mr. Trump on this specific issue, I think he would agree.”
The reference was made to an interview he gave this week to Haaretz, in which he said that he expects Trump would support annexing parts of the West Bank. “I think there are parts of the West Bank that will stay part of Israel in any peace deal. I am sure he wouldn’t have any problem with that at all,” Haaretz quoted him as saying. “I don’t think he will have a problem with that but he would expect Israel to continue seeking peace. He has no doubt that Israel wants peace.”
Friedman said he was answering a hypothetical question without speaking to particular cities or territories. “Assuming no progress is made and Israel is unable to find a peace partner and Israel determined to unilaterally annex places like the Gush with a commitment to continue to explore opportunities for peace, I don’t think Mr. Trump would object,” Friedman told Jewish Insider.
“My reference to the annexation of the West Bank was to those areas which all sides have agreed would be part of Israel under any circumstances,” he explained. “They are predominantly if not exclusively inhabited by Jews, most of whom work inside the Green Line. I am hard pressed to see how this would prejudice continuing peace negotiations which we would encourage.”
Last month, Trump said Israel should not be pressed to halt new construction in West Bank settlements in order to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. “No, I don’t think there should be a pause,” Trump told DailyMail.com “I think Israel really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward.” Nevertheless, Trump reiterated his commitment to pursue peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “I mean lasting peace, not a peace that lasts for two weeks and they start launching missiles again,” he stressed.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also said
seeing Israel and the Palestinians sign on a peace deal would be a “beauty” in spite of the situation on the ground.