May 18, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Praises Trump for Not Demanding Settlement Freeze or Imposing “Peace” Plan

Photo Credit: cc Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

The ZOA praises President Trump for the news conveyed by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman today, that the U.S. has “no demand for a settlement freeze,” and “is not going to impose upon the parties its views of how to live together. They are going to come up with that on their own.”  (See New US envoy: America Won’t Demand a Settlement Freeze,” by Shlomo Cesana and Erez Linn, Israel Hayom, May 17, 2017.) 

Israel has the right to build settlements – another name for Jewish communities – in all of Israel, including Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria.  All of this territory was within the area that internationally binding legal treaties – including the League of Nations’ British Mandate – designated for “close Jewish settlement” and as a “sacred trust” for the Jewish homeland.  No internationally binding treaty has supplanted these rights. 

ZOA also praises and welcomes Ambassador Friedman’s statement that: “The president is aware of the Israeli government’s need to replace the Amona community.”  (Id.) The Jewish residents of Amona were uprooted from their homes, where they lived for over two decades, following litigation instigated by anti-Israel NGOs, based on the absurd claim that Jordan had granted a small part of Amona to private Arab citizens during Jordan’s illegal occupation of Judea/Samaria in 1948-1967.  As an illegal occupier, Jordan had no legitimate right to grant land in Judea/Samaria designated for Jewish settlement and the Jewish homeland.

Rather than promote negotiations, a settlement freeze whets the Palestinian Arab leadership’s appetite for insisting on even more Israeli concessions before deigning to sit down to negotiate.

Settlements are not an obstacle to peace.  The real obstacle to peace is the Palestinian Authority’s teaching of hatred, incitement and payments to terrorists to murder Jews and not accepting the Jewish State within any borders. 

Moreover, a settlement freeze is useless for promoting negotiations.  When Israeli PM Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of freezing settlement construction for 10 months in 2009-2010, in response to the Obama administration’s unfair and illogical demands, Mahmoud Abbas refused to even come to the negotiating table for the first nine months of the freeze.  And after perfunctory meetings during the last month of the freeze, Abbas promptly walked away again.  Rather than promote negotiations, a settlement freeze whets the Palestinian Arab leadership’s appetite for insisting on even more Israeli concessions before deigning to sit down to negotiate.

ZOA also agrees with Ambassador Friedman’s statement that: “There will be no question that this is a dramatic shift from the policies of the Obama administration.”  (Id.)  As ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said last year, the Obama administration’s condemnation of Israeli construction in Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria was “outrageous, insulting and inconsistent with the way one ally speaks publicly of another, irrespective of whatever differences they might have on substantive issues.”  (See, e.g., ZOA Condemns Anti-Semitic Obama Demand of No More Jews in Jerusalem or Judea/Samaria,” July 29, 2016.)

ZOA is pleased to see that with regard to settlements and imposing specific peace plans, President Trump continues to understand what then-candidate Trump said so well during his March 2016 speech at AIPAC, which won over many in the pro-Israel community:

Obama . . . may be the worst thing to happen to Israel, believe me, believe me, and you know it. . . . You see, what President Obama gets wrong about deal-making is that he constantly applies pressure to our friends and rewards our enemies. . . . President Obama thinks that applying pressure to Israel will force the issue. But it’s precisely the opposite that happens.”