Donald Trump said on Friday that he is thinking "seriously" about relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel Hayom has reported.
"I am thinking about the embassy," the US president told the Israeli newspaper. "I am studying the embassy [issue], and we will see what happens. The embassy is not an easy decision… I am thinking about it very seriously, and we will see what happens."
In a somewhat surprising comment, Trump denied that Israeli settlements have a positive impact on the peace process. "They do not help the process. I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left." Apparently trying hard not to commit his administration to anything concrete, the president said that his team is looking at some other options. "We will see, but no, I am not somebody who believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace."
Nevertheless, Trump said that he "respects" Israel. "I understand Israel very well, and I respect Israel a lot… I would like to see peace and beyond that. And I think that peace for Israel would be a good thing for the Israeli people, not just a good thing, a great thing."
His affection extends to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We have always had good chemistry, and he is a good man. He wants to do the right thing for Israel. He would like peace; I believe that he wants peace and wants to have it badly. I have always liked him."
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump on 15 February in Washington. Items on the agenda include the Israel-Palestine conflict, the peace process, settlements and the Iran nuclear deal.