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Speculation over Trump’s Middle East policy

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Israeli officials and the country’s media are assessing what Donald Trump’s election will mean for Israel and the region.

This morning Yediot Ahronot published extracts from a leaked report prepared by the Foreign Ministry’s Centre for Political Research. The report concludes that: “Trump does not consider the Middle East to be a ‘wise investment,’ and is likely to strive to limit his involvement in the region.  The peace process is not a top priority for the new administration.”

The document suggests that Trump will focus strongly on domestic issues, saying: “The line that characterises Trump’s administration indicates a tendency towards American isolationism and a desire to reduce the burden of involvement in foreign arenas.” The report suggests that like President Obama, Trump has a “reluctance to assume the role of the ‘world policeman.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already been invited by Trump to the White House at the earliest opportunity. Netanyahu called Trump “a true friend of the State of Israel. We will work together to advance the security, stability and peace in our region.”

Some right-wing Israeli leaders view Trump’s election as an opportunity to expand Israel’s West Bank presence. Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that Trump’s position is “salient, simple and clear. The era of the Palestinian state is over.”

A senior Trump advisor, Jason Greenblatt, told Army Radio yesterday that “the two sides are going to have to decide how to deal with that region, but it’s certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activity should be condemned and that it is an obstacle to peace”.

Indicating that Trump will take a hands-off approach to the region, Greenblatt said: “He is not going to impose any solution on Israel, he thinks that the peace has to come from the parties themselves.”

Greenblatt also said he believes Trump will follow through on his pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would mark a departure from Washington’s long-term policy.