Trump doesn’t see Israeli land grab as ‘obstacle for peace’ with Palestine – adviser

The West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra is photographed as seen from the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank © Ronen Zvulun
US President-elect Donald Trump does not view Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands as an obstacle to peace, and will not condemn the activity deemed illegal by the international community, his top adviser Jason Greenblatt said.

“Mr. Trump does not view the settlements as being an obstacle for peace,” Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio.

“The two sides are going to have to decide how to deal with that region, but it’s certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activity should be condemned and that it is an obstacle to peace. It is not the obstacle to peace.”

Greenblatt’s role is as chief legal officer and executive vice president at the Trump Organization. The president-elect has already indicated he was looking at Greenblatt to lead the way on Israel.

The news, as reported by Haaretz on Thursday, coincided with an Israeli Cabinet minister calling for a renewal of construction of settlements in the occupied land.

According to Science Minister Ofir Akunis, now that Trump is president-elect, work can continue in earnest. As he said during an AP-cited interview with Army Radio: “We need to think how we move forward now when the administration in Washington, the Trump administration and his advisers, are saying that there is no place for a Palestinian state.”

The Israelis have been building on Palestinian land since 1967, and have been on the receiving end of staunch criticism by international organizations, countries and human rights bodies for systematically denying Palestinians their land and other rights.

Normally a tacit supporter of Israel’s self-determination and its programs to smother any attempts at Palestinian independence, the US has been edging away from Israel under Obama. His presidency has sharply divided Democrats and Republicans on the issue of dealing with Israel and its regional aspirations – including curbing Iran’s influence.

This new warming of relations between the US and Israel could render useless the numerous reports written by organizations like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, which have been outlining in detail why Israel’s land-grabbing is borders on war crime status.