US President Donald Trump and a number of his aides had donated thousands of dollars to illegal Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian territories, The Washington Post revealed yesterday.
The American newspaper revealed that Trump and his senior aides have strong links with the Israeli Jewish settler community, including within the settlement of Beit El, which is located deep in the occupied West Bank near the city of Ramallah where the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is located.
Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Jewish settlers in Beit El, which was established in 1977, while Post indicated that Trump himself made a $10,000 donation in 2003.
David Friedman, who was chosen by Trump to be the new US ambassador in Israel, is the president of the American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which raises about $2 million a year.
According to The Washington Post, the website of this organisation says it has helped bring about an influx in young couples and is working to create "facts on the ground" to prevent international attempts to uproot the community.
The newspaper noted that Trump's ties with the illegal settler community could overturn decades-long US policy on dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It might give Israel more freedom to build without censure from Washington, which previously considered West Bank settlements "illegitimate".
The paper noted that the first signs of a shift emerged last week, when Israel had made a bold announcement of 2,500 new settlement units in illegal settlements located in the occupied West Bank, including some in Beit El, which Trump has not yet condemned.
"We are now more hopeful," The Washington Post quoted Yael Ben-Yashar, who has lived in Beit El for 20 years and acts as the settlement's spokeswoman and runs tours, as saying last week. "We think it may be a new era."