Advancing settlement activity is not helpful to peace, US President Donald Trump said ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.In the brief excerpt of the interview with Israeli daily Israel Hayom, published on Friday, Trump walked a fine line between refusing to condemn Israel, while putting forward his belief about what was helpful and not helpful to the peace process. The new president also hinted at the possibility of regional peace deal.“I don’t want to condemn Israel. There is a long history of Israel enduring condemnations and difficulties. I do not want to condemn Israel during my tenure. I understand Israel and respect Israel,” Trump said.
“I want peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. And more than that, I think that peace will be excellent for Israel,” he said. “There might even be a possibility to achieve peace in a way that is larger than the Israeli-Palestinian peace,” said Trump. “I want both sides to behave in a reasonable manner ... we could have a good chance of that."Referencing the West Bank, he noted that there was a limited amount of land and that expanding the settlements ate away at the remaining territory.“I am not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace. But we are looking at all different kinds of options,” Trump said.He underscored his desire to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Many people think that it is impossible," he said. "Many smart people close to me have argued that such agreement can’t be achieved. I don’t agree with them. I think we can reach an agreement and that we need to reach an agreement,” Trump said.Trump said that he has always liked Netanyahu and believes he acts in Israel’s best interest and wants peace.With regard to the possible relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he said that he was still studying the matter. “It’s not an easy decision,” he said.In speaking of the agreement Iran reached with the six world powers during the Obama Administration, Trump said, the deal was a “disaster for Israel.”
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