TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump is not convinced that either Israel or the Palestinians are committed to peace, he said in an interview Sunday with Israeli daily Israel Hayom.
“I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace. And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace,” he said, before adding, “So we are just going to have to see what happens.”
Trump said that the deal he plans to unveil will be the “only opportunity” for peace.
“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. It’s our only opportunity and it will never happen after this,” he said.
“I think both sides will have to make hard compromises to reach a peace agreement,” Trump added.
Israel has offered the Palestinians numerous statehood plans, but the Palestinian Authority walked away from all previous peace talks.
Trump also gave rare criticism of settlement construction in the West Bank, departing from the views of others in his administration who have said that the settlements do not constitute an obstacle to peace.
“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 was also asked to clarify what he meant when he said “Jerusalem is off the table” in future talks.
“I wanted to make it clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he told the paper. “As for specific boundaries, I would support what both sides agreed to.”
He said that relations between Israel and Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, are improving. With regards to his controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump said, “I think they respect me and they accepted what I did.”
He was enthusiastic about his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I think Bibi is a terrific person, a terrific leader,” he said, using the prime minister’s nickname. About U.S.-Israel ties, he said “I think the relationships are good, but I think they will be a lot better if they ever get to making a peace deal.”
Israel Hayom newspaper is owned by prominent billionaire Sheldon Adelson, supportive of both Trump and Netanyahu.