12th February, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Israel to “be very careful” with building settlements in West Bank as this issue complicates the opportunity to continue with the peace process.
“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,” Trump told Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
Trump added that the issue of settlements will be discussed, when asked whether this issue would become a part of the U.S. plan to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The U.S. leader, however, expressed doubts that Palestine or Israel are seeking to reach peace at the current moment.
“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 … I am right now interested in the Palestinians and Israel.
“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,” Trump stressed.
In December, Israel’s cabinet reportedly approved funding worth some 40 million shekels (11 million dollars) for the West Bank settlements.
Palestinians seek diplomatic recognition for their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli government refuses to recognise Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity, and builds settlements on the occupied areas, in spite of objections from the UN.
The U.S. authorities have stated on numerous occasions that Washington has been preparing a “deal of the century” that will ensure a comprehensive regional peace process and will put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation.
Nevertheless, the details of the plan remain unclear.
Both during his presidential campaign and after becoming president, Trump promised to take steps toward settling the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
During his trip to the Middle East in May 2017, the U.S. president told the Israeli and Palestinian leaders that they should make a compromise in order to achieve peace.
Trump also ordered his senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt to focus on the Middle East peace process.
The two officials have made numerous trips to the region and held talks with local officials, but have not revealed the details of their proposals on the issue.