President Donald Trump said Wednesday that election results handing a narrow victory to right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a “better chance” to a yet to be unveiled US peace plan.
“I’d like to congratulate Bibi Netanyahu,” said Trump after nearly complete results put the incumbent premier in position to form a coalition.
Trump predicted a boost to his administration’s promised plan for a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The fact that Bibi won, I think we’ll see some pretty good action in terms of peace,” Trump said.
“Everybody said you can’t have peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestinians. I think we have a chance and I think we now have a better chance,” he added.
Nearly complete results in the tight election put Netanyahu in position to form a narrow parliamentary majority with a coalition of right-wing and religious parties, allowing him to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
Trump has enthusiastically backed Netanyahu, making controversial gestures of support to the hawkish leader, including recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the occupied Golan Heights area.
– Peace plan doubts –
The peace plan is being developed by Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner.
Palestinian leaders have indicated they are deeply skeptical, given Trump’s all-out support for Netanyahu.
Kushner is an Orthodox Jew and has huge business dealings and other ties to Israel, making many question his ability to serve as a broker between the two sides.
US officials have so far only revealed vague outlines of what the plan might propose, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested it could break abruptly with precedent.
“I’m very confident that what was tried before failed,” he said Tuesday in congressional testimony.
That could mean revisiting longstanding US support for the creation of a future Palestinian state.
Asked if he stood by the so-called “two-state solution,” Pompeo repeatedly declined to answer firmly.
This comes as Netanyahu says he could annex Jewish settlements built in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank — a move that would seek to formalize Israeli control over parts of the supposedly future Palestinian state.
Such a move would previously have been almost unthinkable, leaving Israel diplomatically isolated. But some analysts believe that Washington’s relatively less controversial Golan Heights recognition may have paved the way.
In another sign of Israel’s current feeling of strength, Netanyahu insisted last week that he would refuse removal of any Jewish settlements built inside occupied Palestinian land as part of any peace plan.
He said he told Trump “there shouldn’t be the removal of even one settlement.”
Since taking office, Trump has also moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the politically contested city of Jerusalem, closed the Palestinians’ office in Washington, pulled the United States from UN bodies accused of anti-Israel bias and cut off funding for the UN agency that provides schooling and other services to Palestinian refugees.
Benjamin Netanyahu indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust
Israel's attorney general indicted Benjamin Netanyahu on a range of corruption charges Thursday, the justice ministry announced, potentially spelling an end to the prime minister's decades-long political career.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit "decided to file charges against the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for offences of receiving a bribe, fraud, and breach of trust," a ministry statement said.
It said a note of the decision and a copy of the charges had been provided to the premier's lawyers.
Netanyahu, who strongly denies all the charges, becomes the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office.
Pelosi claims enough evidence to impeach Trump — but suggests more witnesses may testify
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes congressional investigators have uncovered enough evidence to impeach President Donald Trump -- but she suggested their inquiry isn't finished.
The California Democrat told reporters Thursday that Trump had obviously abused his office by attempting to pressure Ukraine into investigating political rival Joe Biden.
"The evidence is clear that the president -- the president -- has used his office for his own personal gain," Pelosi said.
Pelosi lamented that "Republicans are in denial about the facts," saying "the sad tragedy of all of this is the behavior of the president and the defense of that behavior by the Republicans.”
RNC chair attacks ‘progressive liberal’ Pete Buttigieg – says Trump would beat him for lack of foreign policy experience
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is targeting Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, apparently seeing his rise in the polls as a threat to President Donald Trump.
McDaniel Thursday told reporters at a breakfast meeting the South Bend, Indiana mayor who currently is polling in first place in Iowa is not a moderate but a "progressive liberal," and insisted President Trump would beat him should he become the Democratic nominee, The Hill reports.