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National Security & Defense

Krauthammer’s Take: Trump Calling for No New Settlements Is ‘Doing Netanyahu a Favor’

Charles Krauthammer said that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House was a major victory for him, and also opined that Netanyahu is fine with Trump calling for no new settlement expansion:

For Bibi and for the Israelis it was an unbelievably successful event. I thought Bibi was going to break into song at one point. First of all, the two-state solution is no longer the Holy Grail. It is the most likely, it is still the most supported around the world, but it was a good thing to break the taboo of speaking about other possibilities. It only came into effect 17 years ago, and this is a 60-year conflict. It was a long time when people had other ideas. So that’s No. 1: the pressure for a Palestinian state is lessened on Israel, and it’s a way of saying to the Palestinians: “You conduct terror. You teach your children to hate. We are not going to reward you in advance with statehood unless you do it in negotiations.”

I think people misunderstand the settlement issue. That was Trump doing Netanyahu a favor. Netanyahu is under pressure from his right wing to hugely expand settlements. He doesn’t want to do it. He’s never been a settlement fanatic, and what they are going to do — I guarantee you — the administration will end up with an agreement with the Israelis to return to the understanding in a letter that George W. Bush wrote to the Israelis in 2004 in which the settlement issue is dealt with in this way: No new settlements, no expansion of the territory on which settlements are located. However, you can thicken the settlements by adding housing inside. That was the understanding. It was abandoned by Obama unilaterally, in what was a betrayal of the Israelis. And that’s where I think they are going to end up, and that will suit both sides and take the settlement issue off the table.

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