US Ambassador to Israel: Trump will not demand settlement freeze

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Trump has no intention of demanding a “settlement freeze” in Judea and Samaria. 

US President Donald Trump’s administration will not be pushing for a freeze on Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview with Israel Hayom.

“We have no demand for a settlement freeze,” Friedman stated.

The new US ambassador, who just landed in Israel this week, also attempted to draw a major distinction between the approach of the Trump administration with that of the Obama administration with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“As you can see, in contrast to what happened in 2009, when Secretary [Hillary] Clinton demanded a complete settlement freeze and [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas still didn’t show up to negotiate, here we have no demand for a settlement freeze and Abbas is prepared to meet with the prime minister of Israel without any preconditions.”

“If you look at what the president has said since taking office about settlements, his position has been remarkably different than the Obama administration’s,” Friedman stressed. “Trump has not come out and said that settlements are an obstacle to peace; he has not called for a settlement freeze.”

Although Trump has not explicitly called for a “settlement freeze,” he did ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” during a joint press conference in Washington, D.C. back in February.

Moreover, a joint US-Israel mechanism established earlier this year to tackle the issue of “settlements” has yet to reach a full understanding regarding construction in Judea and Samaria.

Israeli ministers have made conflicting statements regarding the Trump administration’s position on this issue.

While Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz has contended that the Trump administration has similar views to the Obama administration, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely had insisted that the current White House would have no issue whatsoever with Israel officially annexing parts of Judea and Samaria.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News