President Trump: Neither Israelis nor Palestinians looking to make peace

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Donald J. Trump

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump declined to give a timeline for releasing the US plan for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, telling an Israeli newspaper that he is not convinced that either party is committed to the process.

“We are going to see what goes on,” Trump told “Israel Hayom” in an interview released Sunday.

“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,” the President said. “So we are just going to have to see what happens.”

The United States’ role as a broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has come under fire following the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, upending seven decades of US foreign policy. Top Palestinian officials condemned the move, saying it disqualified the US from playing the role of arbiter. The United Nations voted overwhelmingly to condemn the decision.

Trump was also asked about his comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos that “Jerusalem is off the table” in terms of negotiations. In his answer, he seemed to qualify his earlier remarks.

“I wanted to make it clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he told the newspaper. “As for specific boundaries, I would support what both sides agreed to.”

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

Asked about the issue of settlements, Trump called them “something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace.” The statement appears to reflect a tougher stance than the one heard in recent months from the administration, resembling far more the position of previous administrations, which tended to describe settlements as an “obstacle to peace.”

“Israel Hayom” newspaper is owned by prominent Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, and is widely seen as being strongly supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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