Donald Trump raised eyebrows in the evangelical Christian community when he said during a GOP presidential debate earlier this year that he would be “neutral” in negotiating a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Now he is talking again about Israel and sounding decidedly more conservative.
In an interview with the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Trump said Tuesday that Israel should continue building settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Trump told the newspaper that, if elected, he’d try to negotiate a genuine and lasting peace, “not a peace that lasts for two weeks and they start launching missiles again.”
In the meantime he said Israel should “keep moving forward” with building Jewish settlements in the territories claimed by the Palestinians.
Trump has repeatedly criticized President Obama’s treatment of the Jewish state and did so again in the Daily Mail interview.
“Look, missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country,” the GOP frontrunner said. “I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?”
Trump added that while he doesn’t know Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that well, “I think I’d have a very good relationship with him” as the next American president.
Pamela Geller, a Jewish American and anti-Shariah activist, gave Trump kudos for coming out with the strong statement.
“Good for him. Jews building houses on Jewish land shouldn’t be a controversy, or even a news story,” Geller told WND.
Geller, author of “Stop the Islamization of America,” said the term “Settler” is a dysphemism,
“These are Jews living in the Jewish homeland,” she said. “For decades we have accepted the false narrative of Israel’s enemies. It’s time to stop. Israel is on the front line of the global jihad, and every free person should be standing with her.”
Joel Richardson, a Bible teacher, evangelist and author of books about the Middle East and Israel, said it’s good that Trump is addressing these issues but doesn’t believe he’s up to the task of directing U.S. policy towards Israel.
“On one hand, most supporters of Israel, as I am, will probably cheer what comes across as a strong expression of support for Israel,” Richardson told WND. “On the other hand, navigating the minefield of the Israeli conflict requires wisdom, and Trump’s comments here are contradictory and amateurish.”
Richardson, author of “The Islamic Antichrist” and “When A Jew Rules the World,” said Trump cannot say he wishes to negotiate a peace between Israel and the Palestinians “while simultaneously addressing one of the biggest hot-button issues in the conflict (the settlements) with Trump’s typical cavalier attitude.
“From the perspective of someone who understands the Middle East, it is clear that before he has even begun, Trump is in way over his head,” he added.
After making the comment about being “neutral” toward Israel in any negotiations toward a peace deal, Trump later backpedaled those comments but got drilled by his GOP opponents Ted Cruz and John Kasich, both of whom said they would not be neutral in the ages-old conflict over who gets to possess the Holy Land.
Cruz said he would fight for a “one state solution” to the quagmire rather than sit at a table with Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.