(April 23, 2018 / JNS) In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the approval of building projects in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly asked the prime minister if he truly cared about making peace with Palestinians.
According to a report by the Axios news site, Trump thought Netanyahu’s plan to approve the building of new homes in Jewish communities in the disputed territory would anger Palestinians “so, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, [Trump] bluntly asked [Netanyahu] whether or not he genuinely wants peace.”
The report did not indicate Netanyahu’s response.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Axios that the U.S. president “has great relationships with a number of foreign leaders, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America.”
Trump’s administration has made efforts to bring about negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Trump named his longtime attorney Jason Greenblatt his Middle East envoy and empowered his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to try to bring the parties to the table.
But following Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement that America would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with members of the Trump administration or take part in any talks facilitated by the United States.
Trump asked Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements” when the Israeli premier visited the White House in February 2017.