More Fake News: Trump ‘Opposes’ Israeli Settlements

By Joel Pollack, BREITBART

Trump in Hat MAGA

The mainstream media are abuzz with reports that President Donald Trump has come out against Israeli settlements. The New York Times was exultant: “Trump Embraces Pillars of Obama’s Foreign Policy,” it crowed.

That kind of story serves two propagandist purposes. First, it provides a kind of justification for Obama’s betrayal of Israel at the UN Security Council over settlements last month; second, it nods at the old NeverTrump claim that Trump would never keep his word to conservatives.

There’s just one problem: the story is false.

Here is the exact wording of the White House statement on Thursday (emphasis added):

The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.

The New York Times pounced on the phrase “may not be helpful”:

In the most startling shift, the White House issued an unexpected statement appealing to the Israeli government not to expand the construction of Jewish settlements beyond their current borders in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Such expansion, it said, “may not be helpful in achieving” the goal of peace.

The statement is only “startling” if one is unaware of the history and geography of the region. In fact, the statement tacitly accepts all existing settlements. (One wonders when the penny will drop, and when the Times editorial page will attack Trump for provoking Middle East tensions with the same statement.)

Recall, too, that Obama insisted on a complete “settlement freeze,” including expansion within existing settlements, and later allowed the UN Security Council to declare the entire Israeli presence beyond the “1967 lines” — including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem — a “flagrant violation” of international law. The Trump administration’s statement is a complete reversal of the Obama administration’s policy.

As legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich explains:

The White House Press Secretary’s statement about settlement building is a huge change of policy, in which the U.S. broadly accepts all building within settlements, including those settlements outside of “blocs.” This is huge.

In the statement, the White House says the building of entirely “new settlements” is not great (but not sharply criticized). On the other hand, building “within existing settlement lines,” ie municipal boundaries, is totally OK. Since all building for 20 years has been within existing lines, and all planned building is within existing lines, this is as big an authorization as it gets.

This is such a big deal, that the press is trying to spin it as a limitation on settlement activity, whereas it is a broad and historic green light. It can no longer be said that the US opposes settlement building.

Perhaps the White House deliberately spun the statement as a limitation to fool the media. That is not hard to do, and it is to President Trump’s benefit, as a negotiating tactic, to appear unpredictable — aggressive one moment, compromising the next.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration has just signaled its intent to back a permanent Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), with or without a Palestinian state. The Palestinians will see what the Times missed.

The Times makes several other slips in its effort to liken Trump’s policy to Obama’s. It claims that UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was emulating her predecessor, Samantha Power, when she talked tough about Russia this week — as if the Obama administration ever made a serious effort to confront Russian ambitions in Eastern Europe, diplomatically or otherwise. And on the Iran deal the Times reports that the administration has “shown no indication that it plans to rip up Mr. Obama’s landmark nuclear deal.” In fact, Trump’s policy from a very early stage was to beat Iran through harsh enforcement: “I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance,” he said in August 2015 on NBC News’ Meet the Press.

No doubt, Trump is treading carefully in the Middle East. But he is taking a different path than his predecessors. And the mainstream media, more eager to score political points than to report the news, are setting themselves up for failure again.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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10 Comments

  1. If you read the statement very carefully, Trump seems to be following the Bush letter of ’04. ie no new settlements but construction within the blocks is OK

    the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.

    Plus the statement says, Trump hasn’t decided.

  2. @ Ted Belman:
    Actually it goes farther than Bush as the Bush letter was about the settlements blocks only. The comment says nothing about the blocks only building within the boundaries of current settlements. My guess is Trump and Spicer may not know about Blocks or remote settlements yet.

    It is also premature to judge what the position is as Spicer says they are still formulating their position on settlements and will discuss it with the Prime Minister.

    While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” Spicer said.

    “The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a Thursday evening statement.

  3. The article says, “…all planned building is within existing lines…” Incorrect.

    The Trump statement came right after BB announced the construction of a brand new settlement, location to be announced, for the first time in 25 years, as a response to the destruction of Amona.

    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahus-reaction-to-amona-expulsion-first-new-settlement-in-25-years/2017/02/02/

    I see that a bill has been introduced to limit the powers of the Supreme Court which will overturn everything it can that conflicts with TSS at some point, as with Amona which didn’t start out as a problem. The problem is the court.
    “Under the bill, titled ‘Basic Law: Standing,’ lawsuits claiming developed land as privately owned could only be brought by the individual or individuals claiming ownership of the land, and not by a third party. Israel’s Supreme Court, as opposed to the United States, allows anyone to bring a suit, whether he has standing with respect to the claim or not. Left wing NGOs have used this to claim Arab ownership of lands without any specific claim by a landowner.”

    The Basic Laws function as Israel’s constitution.”

    Which is incidentally the grounds on which Jill Stein’s challenge of Trump’s election was halted by the court as she had no standing except as a third party with no interest in the matter.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/224357

    He is clearly following the Bush letter. As with the immigration ban, he is carefully following precedent. Perhaps he is worried about the dems undoing it or him by calling him “crazy.” I don’t know. “Not helpful” is sure better than “illegal” but it’s a lot less than Trump led us to expect. I don’t care if he still harbors the delusions of playing peacemaker that plagued his predecessors. Time to move forward with or without his support.

  4. Actually, far from being unhelpful, if TSS were desirable or even an option, even the Judenrein version, given the ease with which Israeli governments have evicted entire Jewish communities from their homes from Sinai to Gush Katif to Amona and Ofra next week, and given PA intransigence, accelerating Jewish settlement would actually put pressure on the PA to sue for peace before it’s too late.

    In fact, Caroline Glick noted in an article that Jewish settlement was underway unchallenged when Israel concluded all of the agreements with the Arabs including the PLO.

  5. @ Ted Belman:
    I am guessing that Trump will want to negotiate with the PLO based on something less than a state (basically autonomous area).

    As you said Ted he will learn that he and Jared Kushner will have better things to with their time and they will not be able to make the toughest deal of all time. Unless Kushner is a modern day Merlin the Magician and turn the Pals into peaceful beings who want to co-exist side by side with the Jews are turning their rockets into plowshares.

    The trouble this will certainly slow down applying sovereignty to Area C.

    Hopefully this will NOT slow down building including E1 which is within the borders of Ma’lah Adumim.

  6. “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

    Welcome back to the “peace process,” boys and girls! Donald Trump will be your guide.

  7. @ Dandaman:

    I think he made his goals clear from the very first day….In the final analysis it’s not Trump that I worry about it’s BB and his band of pygmies running our asylum.

  8. The “Israeli Muslims” will give NO choice to IL (and the US) but to expand soon or later! They will continue to use their population of haters as an excuse for refusing a fair settlement.

  9. It is very appropriate to talk about propaganda/ist in this context and to remember that the US from 1946 – NOT just 1967 – the USA inherited the PEEL Report idea of partition and will object t settlement that makes it difficult to draw a reasonable boundary – as in the Bush policy of: OK but keep new building to existing villages and towns.
    From under my History Degree/Major “hat” there has always been propaganda and ling by half truths in political controversy but the maturity of the participants is not so much to object as to spot and mock the fallacies, gaps in evidence and quarrel with the substantive aims rather than the superficial detail. I remember as a student in the early 60’s at least one Arab making the pertinent analysis that Diaspora Jews rely on liberal society while Yishuv Jews n Israel are in tight nationalist circumstances and so more easy going on being authoritarian about bolshy minorities and this will cause a split. Well it has surfaced from temporary storage during WWII and the decades of open war about Israeli survival as we have now spent over a generation of political suspended animation with riots and terrorism in PA areas. It is NOT that Diaspora Jews have lost the moral plot but the nationalist plot; while some nationalists have lost the plot on being a small power for which corroboration see the latest piece by C. Glick.

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