(JNS.org) The Trump administration’s Israel policy earned unexpected praise from a former Obama administration official.
Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel from August 2011 to January 2017, told Reuters in an interview published Thursday that so far, Trump’s “approach on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been more cautious and more responsible than almost anything else.”
Shapiro still reserved criticism for President Donald Trump's White House in his comments, adding, “I can’t quite explain why on this one issue they’re closer to the norm than they’ve been on other issues.”
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s international negotiations representative, recently visited Israel and the disputed territories for a series of high-level meetings, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Following the meeting with Greenblatt, Abbas’s office stated that the Palestinian leader believes “that under President Trump’s leadership a historic peace deal is possible, and that it will enhance security throughout the region.”
Israel this week reportedly rejected a request by the Trump administration to freeze settlement construction in isolated settlement blocs.
The Trump administration first articulated the nuances of its stance on settlements in early February, stating, “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”
In mid-February, Trump told Netanyahu during a joint press conference that he would like to see Israel “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
At the same press conference, Trump seemed to break with decades of U.S. foreign policy by not firmly committing to support for a two-state solution, saying that he will agree with whatever plan the Israelis and Palestinians prefer.
“I'm looking at two states and one state. I am very happy with the one that both parties like...If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, then I’m happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said.