President Donald Trump has warned Israel that its West Bank settlements risk complicating efforts to find peace in the Middle East.
In an interview published on Sunday, Mr Trump also told an Israeli newspaper that he was sceptical that either side – Palestinians or Israelis – were ready to make peace.
The American president angered Palestinians in December when he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and then threatened to withhold aid unless their leaders entered talks.
But after going out of his way to talk up close ties with Israel during his first year in office, Mr Trump offered a more even handed approach in the interview with the conservative newspaper Yisrael Hayom by offering a cool assessment of Israeli settlement building.
“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.
Israel broke ground on its first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in nearly 20 years when work began on Amichai last June despite requests from Mr Trump for a hold on construction as he tried to revive a moribund peace process.
Settlements are considered illegal under international law.
The White House had been expected to unveil a new peace proposal in the spring but the timetable has been in doubt ever since Palestinian leaders said they would play no part in a US-mediated process following Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem.
In the new interview, Mr Trump offered no firm timetable.
“Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace,” he said. “And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace. So we are just going to have to see what happens.”
But he stood by his controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and described it as the highlight of his first 12 months.
“I think Jerusalem was a very big point and I think it was a very important point,” he said.
“The capital, having Jerusalem be your great capital, was a very important thing to a lot of people. It was a very important pledge that I made and I fulfilled my pledge,” he said.
Israel claims the whole of the city as its capital. Palestinians also lay claim to East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in 1967 – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Previous US administrations have said the status of the city should form part of peace talks.
Meanwhile Rex Tillerson, Mr Trump’s secretary of state, arrived in Egypt on Sunday at the start of a five-nation tour which is likely to be dominated by growing regional unrest and concern about US policies in the Middle East.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/11/donald-trump-warns-israel-settlements-complicating-search-middle/