Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was asked during Thursday night’s Republican debate to clarify comments that he would be “neutral” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and whether such an approach would be consistent with the US’ close alliance with the country.
Trump responded by burnishing his pro-Israel credentials — but adding that attempts to negotiate peace in the region would be helped by taking a more even-handed approach.
Trump said that he had served as grand marshal for a pro-Israel parade in New York and had been presented with several awards in Israel. But Trump described the effort to negotiate peace between Israel and its neighbours as “probably the toughest negotiation of any kind anywhere in the world.”
“I think it serves no purposes generally to say there’s a good guy and a bad guy,” Trump said of the decades-long conflict between Israel and its neighbours.
Syria and Lebanon do not recognise Israel, while the latest round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed in mid-2014.
Trump he did not offer details as to what his more even-handed approach to the conflict would entail, or explain specifics on how his policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would differ from that of his opponents or the current president. But he talked generally about what he believed to be the importance of taking his kind of approach.
“It doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbours, because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace finally for Israel and for their neighbours. As a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if i’m taking sides,” Trump said. “That being said, I am totally pro-Israel.”
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