Outgoing Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Thursday urged President-elect Donald Trump to abandon the longstanding American support of Israel, saying its close ally had become a “burden” for the US.
“Now is the time to acknowledge that Israel has become a burden on you [the US]… We call on you to deal fairly with the Palestinians and end your policy of overlooking Israel’s perpetual crimes,” he said in a speech delivered via video conference at an Istanbul rally, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency.
“It would be wrong of Trump to give the green light to Israel to do as it pleases in Palestine… We urge him to reconsider his country’s policy of unqualified bias toward Israel,” he told attendees at the International Forum of Youth for Jerusalem.
“There can be no stability in the [Middle East] region without recognizing the rights of Palestine,” said Mashaal, whose organization, an Islamist terror group, is openly committed to destroying Israel.
Trump has vowed to back the Jewish state, praised its war against terror groups and said he would not pressure it on peace talks with Palestinians. He has also sided with the Netanyahu government in slamming the Iranian nuclear deal, pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and overseen the removal of explicit support for the two-state solution from the Republican party platform.
On Thursday, Trump’s top Israel adviser Jason Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio that unlike previous US administrations, the incoming president doesn’t consider Jewish settlements in the West Bank an obstacle to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
According to Greenblatt, Trump believes Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the conflict without the international community imposing a peace plan on them.
“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, because it is not the obstacle to peace,” he said.
“He thinks that Israel is in a very tough situation and needs to defend itself,” Greenblatt continued. “He is not going to impose any solution on Israel, he thinks that the peace has to come from the parties themselves.”