Would Support Israeli Annexation of Parts of West
In interview with Haaretz, David Friedman,
candidate’s co-adviser on Israeli affairs, says
Trump doesn't believe Palestinian state is 'an
American imperative.' He's also not concerned over
possibility of binational state: 'Nobody really
knows how many Palestinians live there.'
By Barak Ravid
June 24, 2016
elected U.S. president in November, Donald Trump
would support Israel’s annexing parts of the West
Bank, a senior official in the Trump campaign told
Haaretz in an interview this week.
not worried about the possibility of a binational
state, said David Friedman, the candidate’s adviser
on Israel. “Nobody really knows how many
Palestinians live there,” he said.
president, Trump would be unlikely to adopt the
policies of President Barack Obama and his
predecessor, George W. Bush, that a Palestinian
state is a U.S. security interest, the adviser said.
A 57-year-old lawyer specializing in real estate and
bankruptcies, Friedman has worked with Trump as an
attorney for 15 years.
months ago during the election campaign, Trump
announced that Friedman, along with Trump Industries
Jason Greenblatt, would both serve as his
advisers on Israeli affairs.
telephone interview on Tuesday evening took place as
polls showed Trump sliding and his campaign seemed
racked by crisis. Friedman predicted that
despite criticism of Trump’s reaction to the Orlando
attack, once the dust settled, his public
support would grow.
not going downhill. Everything is fine,” Friedman
said. “The polls are extremely fluid. They don’t
mean much at this point. People who study the polls
tell us it is pretty even right now. There is a lot
of work to do but nobody is discouraged by the
Trump's ambassador to Israel?
of Friedman published a few weeks ago by Makor
Rishon describes him as the lead candidate for the
job of ambassador to Israel if Trump wins the
election. Friedman is involved in philanthropic
activities for Israel, a large part of which has to
do with settlements in the West Bank. He is
president of an organization of American friends of
the Beit El settlement, who have sent millions of
dollars to the settlement in recent years.
start of his campaign, Trump has said that if
elected he would try to achieve an
Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. But the candidate
has also told the British Daily Mail that he
supports unlimited expansion of Israeli settlements.
Friedman said that in recent months he has given
Trump a few briefings about the Israeli-Palestinian
issue and that Trump is knowledgeable about the
details of the long-standing conflict.
positions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as his
close aide sees it, will be welcomed by the right
and the Israeli settlements lobby. If Trump wins the
election, Friedman said he would carry out the
policy as he, Friedman, presented it. He would in
effect retreat from a policy in place under
Republican and Democratic presidents alike for the
past five decades. In such a situation, Trump would
even be further to the right than his apparent
supporter, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Trump support the creation of an independent
is – not without the approval of the Israelis,” said
Friedman. “This is an issue that Israel has to deal
with on its own because it will have to deal with
the consequences. His feeling about Israel is that
it is a robust democracy. The Israelis have to make
the decision on whether or not to give up land to
create a Palestinian state. If the Israelis don’t
want to do it, so he doesn’t think they should do
it. It is their choice. ... He does not think it is
an American imperative for it to be an independent
Palestinian state. “
explains that the reasons for Trump’s positions
about the creation of a Palestinian state are due
first and foremost to what he described as “the Gaza
experiment” and the way that ended. The second
reason is that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
has no domestic political legitimacy in the
Palestinian Authority, and therefore he has no
mandate to sign a peace agreement. Finally, Friedman
explains, the American interest is that Israel will
live in security and therefore any step that may
weaken it should be avoided.
Israelis conclude that they need to do this
[establish a Palestinian state] in order to enhance
their long-term security – which I think we are very
skeptical about – but if this is what they conclude
they want to do, we will respect this decision. ...
If the circumstances change ... and there is a
reason to be optimistic, then great, but the current
facts don’t make that [Palestinian state] an
American imperative at all.”
'Committed to settlers'
said Trump’s support for building settlements
stemmed from his understanding that the Israeli
government “has a commitment to its citizens in
Judea and Samaria” who moved out there with its
agreement. Trump, according to Friedman, said Israel
has to continue to build in the settlements because
there is no reason not to do so.
“don’t have to wait another generation for the
Palestinians to hold more realistic expectations and
show less hostile motivation,” Friedman said.
“Trump’s position is that we have to deal with
reality and not hopes and wishes.”
aide said the possibility of a binational state
emerging between the Jordan River and Mediterranean
Sea doesn’t worry Trump. Listening to the policy
Friedman talks reminds one more than a little of the
positions of Habayit Hayehudi and the YESHA council
always creative ways to allow people to live in
peace. It is not always about the land. We don’t
accept the idea it is only about land. Nobody really
knows how many Palestinians actually live there,”
think Trump would object to Israel annexing parts of
the West Bank?
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. Regarding the
entire West Bank I think that’s a legal issue. 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
ministers in the Israeli government support the
annexation of at least parts of the West Bank to
Israel – would Trump support that?
expect that he would,” said the adviser. “I haven’t
had this discussion with him but I expect he would.
revealed that as part of his job he has already met
with Israeli government representatives in
Jerusalem, but he won’t go into further detail. He
doesn’t’ know when Trump would arrive for a visit to
Israel, but says it wouldn’t happen before the
Republican National Convention on July 19-21.
Although there’s no set date at the moment, it seems
likely Trump would make Israel a desired destination
during the campaign, between the end of July and
'Trump a willing partner on aid deal'
One of the
main issues on the agenda in Israeli-U.S. relations
now is the security aid deal for the coming decade.
Despite months of negotiations, there are
still differences preventing the sides form
signing an agreement. Although Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to close a deal
while Obama is still in office, the fact he doesn’t
sign one raises the possibility that he prefers to
wait until the next president takes office.
cautious in his response to the question of whether
he would recommend that Netanyahu wait for a Trump
victory and avoid signing an agreement beforehand.
He says he isn’t briefed on all the details of the
current American proposal.
“But if the
discussions are not completed by the conclusion of
the Obama administration, you will find in Trump a
very willing and enthusiastic partner who will be
highly receptive to the idea of maintaining and
enhancing Israel’s military superiority in the
region,” Friedman said.
is the winner and there is no deal yet, they have
nothing to worry about,” he said. “If Hillary wins,
then I don’t know.”