“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,” the Republican platform states. “We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so. Our party is proud to stand with Israel now and always.”
The Platform certainly suggests that a Trump administration is not going to pressure Israel, like the Obama administration has, to cede territory in order to establish an independent Palestinian state.
Trump gave his first interview to Sheldon Adelson's Israel Yisrael Hayom Newspaper (Adelson was a major Trump supporter) and he specifically noted that he would not impose a solution: "I believe that my administration can play a significant role in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace -- which must be negotiated between the parties themselves, and not imposed on them by others. Israel and the Jewish people deserve no less," the president-elect said.
He has also said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he would like to do the "ultimate deal " between Israelis and Palestinians.' As a deal maker, I'd like to do...the deal that can't be made. And do it for humanity's sake." And yet, if Trump decided he would tell both sides that this is "the deal" on the table, could he pressure both Israelis and Palestinians to take it?
There are those who believe that the notion that Trump will not impose a deal on Israel makes it more likely that Obama in his last couple months in office will make a move at the UN favourable to the Palestinians. As Herb Keinon has written on the Jerusalem Post, "Four options [that Obama could take] have been widely discussed: delivering a speech on the Mideast laying down how he sees the parameters of an eventual deal, or supporting one of three moves in the UN. The three UN options include supporting either a new UN Security Council resolution laying new foundations for peacemaking to essentially replace Security Council Resolution 242; not vetoing another attempt by the Palestinians to get the Security Council to approve their admission into the UN as a state; or supporting an anti-settlement resolution."
3. Trump Has indicated He is in Favour of Israel continuing to build Settlements.
In an interview with the British Daily Mail on May 2016y, Trump said there should be no pause in settlement construction.
Asked if there should be a pause in settlement building, Trump was quoted answering as follows: “No, I don’t think it is, because I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward… I don’t think there should be a pause… Look: Missiles were launched into Israel...
Trumps stated position above is very different that Obama's position which pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009 to implement a freeze on new construction for 10 months in an attempt to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused to negotiate until the very end of the freeze, which Netanyahu then refused to extend.
I think Trump is less likely to criticize Israel for building settlements, and this may mean it will be easier for Israel to build up the already existing settlement blocs. I am not sure that it will mean the US will accept Israel building outside of the existing settlement blocs. [Update Nov 17: since writing this last statement, YNET has just published a piece in which Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that Trump's team is asking Israel to only build within settlement blocs. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4880028,00.html]
Finally, as Amos Harel has written in Ha'aretz, " Just as he [Trump] may be the first American president who...ignores construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1967 borders, Trump could easily make an abrupt about-turn based on internal political considerations or a sense of having sustained some personal insult."
4. Trump and a green light s to enable Israel to annex large portion of the West Bank
Naftali Bennett, Israel's education minister, who champions Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) released a statement within hours of Mr Trump's victory declaring: "The era of a Palestinian state is over."
Some in the settler community suggest Trump may give the green light for Israel to annex large portions of the West Bank, but I don't anticipate that Trump will go this far. If he won't move the Embassy to Jerusalem, he's not likely to give Israel the green light for annexation. Bennett's statement is widely seen as an effort to pressure Netanyahu into adopting a more pro-settler position.
But, already it appears that in light of the Trump win, a Jerusalem City Hall official is going to approve 7000 housing units in Jerusalem over the Green Line that had been frozen due to fear of upsetting the Obama administration.
6. Military Aid to Israel
In March 2016, Trump raised eyebrows in Israel when he said Israel should pay for defense aid it receives from the US. But then The Dallas Morning News reported that Trump backtracked on the Israel statement during a tour of the building, saying of Israel, "They help us greatly." Trump's initial statement opposing foreign military aid is one of the reasons why Netanyahu decided to sign in September a new $38 billion 10-year aid agreement under Obama, rather than waiting for the new administration.
On November 1 , David M. Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, the lawyers who head the Republican candidate’s Israel advisory committee, published a “joint statement” which said that Trump would “give support [to Israel] greater than that provided” under the recently-signed 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel.http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/217138/can-trumps-newly-released-statement-on-israel-woo-voters-in-must-win-swing-states
But remember that Trump himself has not said this.
7. Iran Deal-Could this be the End of the Deal?
Trump has said the flawed nuclear deal with Iran was a mistake ( which is in line with Netanyahu's views) but Trump isn't seen to be likely to scrap the deal.
His advisor Freedman wrote in an email to the Forward:..l. ...we [the U.S. ] have now released the funds to, and lifted the sanctions on, Iran, so the primary consequence of ‘ripping up the deal’ is to shorten even further the nuclear runway.” At the same time, Friedman didn’t rule out additional nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, even with the agreement still in place. “Assuming (a big assumption) that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA and otherwise not threatening the US or its allies, we believe the Trump administration will use this period to engage with world leaders to re-introduce economic leverage on Iran and seek to eliminate the Iran nuclear program well in advance of the current 9-year runway.”
But, again, these are the words of Freedman, not of Trump, such that it's difficult to know. However as Herb Keinon has noted, unlike Obama, Trump will not have any " emotional investment" in the deal that could possibly blind him to Iranian violations.
Some have suggested that Trump will also pay more attention to Iran's ceasing support for Terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.
Other experts are saying that the Iranian nuclear deal could collapse under Trump , in that a Trump administration "could take steps that would cause Iran to abandon its commitments"
As Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the Washington Post,'I could see a Trump administration beginning to threaten the use of American power, and put the Iranians to a choice between severe sanctions and potential military action, or going back to renegotiate some key elements of the deal,” he said, citing sunset provisions that gradually begin to lift some limitations after seven to 15 years."
Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli intelligence has written that
" It will also be important for Israel to try to reach an agreement whereby the United States would provide Israel with all the operational capabilities necessary to take action against Iran – in the even that all other alternatives for halting Iran’s progress toward completing its nuclear program have been exhausted"
8. Netanyahu's relationship with Trump
We might assume that it is likely that Netanyahu's relationship with Trump will be better than with Obama since it's hard to see how his relationship. Netanyahu's overall world view is more in line with Republicans than Democrats, and he will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to work with a Republican Congress and Senate.
“When I become President, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on Day One,” Mr. Trump said. “I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately..."
Trump has already invited Netanyahu to a meeting in the U.S. “at the first opportunity.” But Aaron David Miller in the Wall Street Journal suggests that there will be tensions between the Netanyahu-Trump relationship:
" However the Trump-Netanyahu relationship begins, some issue–possibly settlements, or Mr. Netanyahu simply overplaying his hand on another matter–will lead to tensions. As close as the U.S. and Israel are, they are in different regions and driven by different motivations. These two leaders’ personalities suggest it’s only a matter of time before Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu are annoying one another, or possibly worse."
Karl Vick writing in Time Magazine has suggested that Netanyahu, who has called trump "a true friend of Israel" is worried that Trump is a wild card. Vick wrote that Netanyahu "is so obviously keen to throw an arm around him [Trump] and have a quiet word—before someone else gets there first"http://time.com/4566802/president-donald-trump-israel-benjamin-netanyahu/
9. US Disengagement from the Middle East Could Leave Russia with more power
If Trump is intent on being less involved in the Middle Eas, then Russia will have a greater role with more room to do what it wants, which will be against Israel's interests.
As Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a specialist on Middle East politics at Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center told the Jerusalem Post,"'If the US is not involved, the balance of power will be effected negatively. The strengthening of Russian influence and the efforts by Iran and Turkey to project power are not in Israel's interests. The US has a role to play in maintaining a balance of power in which Israel can thrive and survive. Without that balance it's a more dangerous region.''
He also suggested that if the Trump administration supports a more assertive right-wing Israeli posture regarding Jerusalem, the Temple Mount (al Haram al Sharif) and the West Bank , it could undermine the stability of the Jordanian monarchy. ''Public opinion in Jordan is very sensitive to what goes on here. That alone can threaten the monarchy and force the monarchy to line up behind public opinion.'