During a join press conference on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements” in the West Bank until they could figure out a deal that would ensure future settlement construction would be peaceful.
“I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit,” Trump said towards Netanyahu when asked by a reporter if they were on the same page when it came to Israel’s settlements.
“We’ll work something out, but I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made,” he continued.
Trump added that he and Netanyahu, who he referred to by his well-known nickname “Bibi,” have been friends for a long time so he is confident they can develop a good plan.
“Bibi and I have known each other a long time,” Trump said. “Smart man, great negotiator, and I think we’re gonna made a deal. It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand. That’s a possibility, so let’s see what we do.”
When asked about a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, Trump said that the United States is focused on promoting peace in the Middle East.
“The United States will encourage a peace, and really a great peace deal. We’ll be working on it very diligently,” Trump said. “But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement.”
Trump added that in order to make such a deal, Israelis would have to “show some flexibility” and “show they really want to make a deal.”
The U.S. President weighed in on the deal making from the side of the Palestinians as well.
“You can talk about flexibility there, too,” he said.
Trump added that the Palestinians “have to get rid of some of the hate that they’re taught from a very young age.”
Netanyahu praised Trump, as well as his family, for being great supporters of Israel.
“I’ve known the president and his family for a long time and there’s no greater support of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu added that while he would like to make a peace deal with the Palestinian people, they continue to teach hate of the Jewish nation.
“They continue to call for Israel’s destruction inside their schools, inside their mosques, inside their textbooks. You have to read it to believe it,” Netanyahu said.
President Trump opened the press conference praising the state of Israel and reaffirming the “unbreakable bond” between the two countries.
“With this visit, the United States again reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally: Israel,” President Trump said. “The partnership between our two countries built on our shared values has advanced the cause of human freedom, dignity and peace. These are the building blocks of democracy. The state of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression.”