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Unsure Israel seeks peace with Palestinians: Trump

He expresses concerns about Israeli settlement building; Abbas seeks Russia\'s backing over Jerusalem

Published : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 61

He expresses concerns about Israeli settlement building; Abbas seeks Russia's backing over JerusalemJERUSALEM, Feb 12 : US President Donald Trump said in an interview published on Sunday that he was "not necessarily sure" Israel was seeking to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Trump has previously denounced the Palestinians for what he sees as their unwillingness to negotiate, but he has largely refrained from criticising Israel.
Speaking to freesheet daily Israel Hayom, Trump noted that while US-Israel relations were "great", peace with the Palestinians would make them "a lot better".
"Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace. They are not looking to make peace," Trump said in the interview with the right-wing paper.
"And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace. So we are just going to have to see what happens."
Trump also expressed concerns about Israeli settlement building, although his administration has been far less critical of settlements than his predecessor Barack Obama.
Trump's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has in the past been a supporter of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
"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.
Trump has said he intends to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the "ultimate deal" that would resolve the decades-long conflict, but in the interview he questioned whether negotiations were even possible for now. "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," Trump said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas visits Russia on Monday in a bid to secure Russian President Vladimir Putin's support following Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The Palestinian leader was set to visit Moscow two weeks after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Abbas has refused any contact with US President Donald Trump's administration since Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital at the end of last year. Abbas is due to speak at the United Nations Security Council on February 20.    —AFP





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