In Interview, Trump Casts Doubt on Palestinians’ Desire to Make Peace

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Palestinians hang an effigy of the President Donald Trump during a protest in Aida refugee camp in Beit Lechem, in January. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

In the interview published in Yisrael Hayom Sunday, President Donald Trump cast doubt on the Palestinians’ desire to strike a peace agreement.

“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,” Trump was quoted as saying. He did not disclose details about the anticipated peace plan.

Also in the interview, Trump criticized Israel’s continued building of communities in Yehudah and Shomron. The Trump White House has been less publicly critical of Israel’s settlement building than previous administrations.

“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,” he said.

Relations between the U.S. and the Palestinians have spiraled since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December. Since then he has cut U.S. funding to a U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees and threatened to withhold aid money to the Palestinians unless they resume negotiations with Israel.

In the interview, Trump said that his recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital was one of the highlights of his presidency thus far.

When asked to name the most memorable event of his presidency, Trump was quoted as saying “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,” Trump said.

“The other presidents, all of them have failed in the promise even though they made it as a campaign promise but I understand it because I will tell you, the lobbying against it was tremendous,” Trump said.

“By taking Jerusalem off the table I wanted to make it clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and as for specific boundaries would support what both sides agreed to,” Trump said.

He added “I think both sides will have to make hard compromises to reach a peace agreement.”