Trump, Kushner ‘Not Friends of Israel’: Settler Leader Escalates Rhetoric Over Mideast Plan

A prominent Israeli settler leader told Haaretz on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump and his senior adviser Jared Kushner "have proven in their plan that they are not friends of the State of Israel," responding to calls by American officials to restrain the Israeli right’s opposition to the White House's “Middle East Peace Plan.”

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LISTEN: High priests, holy smoke and cannabis in the TempleHaaretz

Over the past few weeks, American officials have conveyed to settler leaders that their vocal criticism of Trump's plan might lead them to shelf it altogether, dubbing their response ungrateful. This followed a public campaign led by the Yesha Council of West Bank settlements, rejecting the prospect of a future Palestinian state as delineated in the American proposal.

Trump and Kushner "do not have Israel's security and settlement interests in mind. All they care about in this outline is promoting their own interests ahead of the upcoming election, [in a way that would] help Trump," Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani argued.

Efrat Mayor Oded Ravivi countered their statements saying that he encountered many "loyal to Israel" at government meetings, and those who hold the idea of Israel as a Jewish state dear to them.


Ayelet Shaked with Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani at the Knesset, May 26, 2020.

"In long conversations, all the representatives stressed the necessity of reinforcing Israel's power, along with the necessity of ensuring the future of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria," he said. "There has never been a more supportive government of Israel and the settlement movement."  

American officials have argued to settler leaders that public criticism is particularly inappropriate at this time, given that it comes while they handle the coronavirus crisis and the latest wave of racial justice protests in the United States.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announces commitment to negotiations with Palestinians under Trump's proposal, but on Tuesday, he told settler leaders that should annexation of West Bank lands be brought before the government or Knesset for approval, it would be promoted independently of the U.S. president's plan, according to sources familiar with the content of the meeting.