Trump 'Surprised' by Israeli Desire for Peace With Palestinians

Republican front-runner discusses foreign policy in New York Times interview, stressing that Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stop terrorism.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addresses a rally on March 14, 2016 in Vienna Center
U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addresses a rally on March 14, 2016 in Vienna Center, Ohio. AFP

Donald Trump further delved into his positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as other international matters, in an attempt to pull back the veil on his foreign policy positions in a New York Times interview published Saturday.

"I'll tell you one thing," Trump said on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "people that I know from Israel, many people, many, many people - and almost everybody would love to see a deal on the side of Israel."

It was a point previously highlighted by Trump during his speech at the annual AIPAC policy conference last week where he won over at least part of the audience, stating positions largely accepted as pro-Israel. What wasn't mentioned at AIPAC however, was that Trump had never expected to find such a desire for peace among Israelis.

"Now that I'm really into it, I've been a little bit surprised to hear that," Trump told the New York Times. "I would've said, I would've said that maybe, maybe you know, maybe Israel never really wanted to make a deal, or doesn't really want to make a deal."

After deep discussions with "many, many people" however, Trump is now convinced.

"They really want to make a deal. They want to make a good deal, they want to make a fair deal, but they do want to make a deal," Trump continued. "And, almost everybody, and I'm talking to people off the record, and off the record, they really would like to see a deal."

Despite previous statements insisting that he would remain neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to negotiate a deal with trust from both sides, Trump laid out steps that would need to be taken by the Palestinians before any such deal could become reality.

"Basically, I support a two-state solution on Israel," said Trump. "But the Palestinian Authority has to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. And they have to stop the terror, stop the attacks, stop the teaching of hatred you know? And if they can't, you're never going to make a deal. One state, two states, it doesn't matter: you're never going to be able to make a deal."

The Palestinians should be able to accept such a reality, according to Trump, "except that the ingrained hatred is tremendous."

The Republican frontrunner extensively covered several other topics as well, generally laying out a foreign policy in which the U.S. would be reimbursed by its allies in return for the country's superior military protection. 

While stating that "biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation," Trump refused to rule out supporting Japan and South Korea developing their own nuclear stockpile to deter North Korea, rather than depending on the U.S. and its nuclear arsenal that's "in very terrible shape. They don't even know if they work." 

Besides seeking new deals with allies for reimbursement and protection, Trump also presented a foreign policy in which economics and resources were used more heavily as leverage to push for desired conclusions.

The Saudis, said Trump, may well lose oil revenues from the U.S. unless they engage more forcefully in the fight against ISIS in the Middle East while America's "tremendous economic power over China" would be used in negotiations to ease tensions in the South China Sea. 

"I'm not isolationist," declared Trump, "but I am 'America First.'"