Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is seeking a public statement from President Donald Trump to support an Israeli initiative to expand Israel’s sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank, according to officials at the prime minister’s office.
Netanyahu would like such a commitment to be made before the Israeli general elections on September 17th.
While the prime minister can not himself make the diplomatic decision to extend Israeli sovereignty to the settlements as he heads the current government, his office is pushing for Trump’s public support. This would allow Netanyahu to credibly guarantee his constituents that he can and will quickly apply sovereignty if he is again elected prime minister.
If Trump follows through then it would mark the third major diplomatic shift by the White House in less than two years. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and also Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Last September, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the Israel Hayom newspaper believes that Jewish settlements are not an obstacle to peace and that he never opposed any Israeli construction plans in the occupied West Bank.
The PLO has often accused the U.S. of encouraging Israeli colonial expansion in the West Bank.
Friedman, also said that unlike the Barack Obama administration, the Trump Administration does not examine every home built in the West Bank. “We never tell the Israeli government, this should be off the list,” he said.