Donald Trump’s electoral victory delighted the vast majority of Israelis. Whereas they viewed Barack Obama as indifferent to their country’s vital concerns virtually from the outset of his tenure, they took Trump’s campaign rhetoric literally and viewed him as a true friend of the Jewish state. Israel’s settler movement, and its supporters on the state’s political Right were especially delighted. It was almost as if their dream had come true when Trump became the first American president who refused to commit to a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. As he stated just a few weeks into his presidency, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like . . . If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
Trump issued his statement as he was meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu. It certainly pleased the hard-line Israeli prime minister, whose support for a two-state solution has never been much more than lukewarm. Indeed, the atmosphere in that White House meeting could hardly have been more different from the tension-filled confrontations that Netanyahu had with Trump’s predecessor. The fact that the president “suggested” to Netanyahu to go easy on settlement construction was glossed over by the prime minister’s backers.