Trump Congratulates Netanyahu, Says Election Victory Is 'Good Sign for Peace'

Meanwhile, John Bolton says Trump administration's Mideast peace plan to be released 'in very near future'

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters outside the White House, Washington D.C., April 10, 2019.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais,AP

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's victory in Israel's parliamentary election was a good sign for peace. 

"He's been a good ally, and he's a friend. I'd like to congratulate him, that was a well thought-out race," Trump told reporters at the White House.

The U.S. president called Netanyahu Wednesday evening to congratulate him and the people of Israel on his election victory.

>> Read more: Live election updates ■ How Netanyahu won the election ■ Left wakes up to darker day ■ Netanyahu's next coalition: Annexation for immunity from indictment ■ Arab parties need to do soul-searching ■ Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs in 2015 proved a big success in 2019 election ■ Opinion: Time we admit Israel is a dictatorship

Netanyahu thanked Trump for supporting Israel, including recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Netanyahu also thanked the U.S. president for opposing the Iranian regime, and most recently his decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also called Netanyahu to congratulate him on securing a fifth term. Pence told the prime minister that he appreciated his leadership and joint efforts with Trump to promote the two countries' strong ties.

Meanwhile, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, said that the Trump administration’s plan for Middle East peace will be released “in the very near future." Bolton didn’t provide an exact date. He made the comment during an interview on a right-wing radio program on Wednesday, hours after it became apparent that Netanyahu had won another term in office.

"Everyone said you can't have peace in the Middle East with Israel and the Palestinians," Trump said. "I think we have a chance, and I think we now have a better chance with Bibi having won."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to comment Monday on Netanyahu’s recent statements, in which he said Israel would annex parts of the West Bank if he was reelected. He also said he has been discussing the issue with the Trump administration and hopes the administration will accept his position. 

The peace plan has been considered to be in a state of hibernation so as not to interfere with Israel's election. Washington’s intensive preparations for its release, which geared up in the last months of 2018, slowed down once Netanyahu called for an early election. It has widely been reported that Trump would release the plan shortly after the results of the election were announced. 

In February, Jared Kushner told Sky News Arabia that the administration's peace plan will address all core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including borders.

Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, said the White House would like to see a unified Palestinian government, instead of the current situation in which Gaza and the West Bank are separated from one another. 

One of the main principles of the plan, according to Kushner, is freedom, including freedom of opportunity and religion. He said the aim is to eliminate the borders as they are today, "in order to guarantee freedom of movement for people and goods."