06:17 GMT10 July 2020
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    Israeli leaders are keen to work with the new American administration - even if it means holding back on some expansion projects for the moment.

    On February 20, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio the country would risk looking "like a bunch of nutcases" if it pushed back at the new administration over settlements.

    "For eight years, there was tension and friction with the Obama administration. If we now start to fight with the Trump administration… and the Republican-majority Congress, people will really start to think that the leadership in the state of Israel is a bunch of nutcases," he said, the Times of Israel reported.

    Though as president-elect, Donald Trump reacted with fury to the December UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement building (and, new reports say, even tried to stop the resolution from passing), as president he has suggested that settlement building is not "a good thing for peace." 

    In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington last week, Trump said he'd like to see Israel "hold back on settlements for a little bit."

    Netanyahu, possibly taking that to heart, is reported to have told his security cabinet a few days later that while he will not impose a settlement freeze, construction in the West Bank will slow down, and the government may go back on a pledge to build a new illegal settlement in the West Bank for the residents of the Amona outpost, which was evacuated earlier in February after a long legal battle, Haaretz reports.

    Before his trip, he told the cabinet they "mustn't get into a confrontation with Trump."

    Lieberman shrugged at reports of the slowdown.

    "Let's try and talk and reach an agreement. Not every issue needs to be immediately turned into a crisis," he said. "The most important thing is to reach understandings with the US on all issues."

    Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the security cabinet, struck an eager note the same day, calling the Trump administration "very, very supportive" and saying that a peace deal could be possible with a new "real partner" in the White House.

    Trump will change the "basic approach" of the international community, Erdan implied.

    "We have an opportunity to create, together with the administration, the conditions for serious peace negotiations, by changing the basic approach of the international community," he told the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, the Times of Israel writes.

    He also said Israel could take heed of international opinion in its "legislative initiatives."

    "It might be good if we, Israeli lawmakers, were a little more careful about our legislative initiatives and we took into consideration the way things look in the international arena," he said, seemingly alluding to the settlements Trump has asked for a pause on.

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    Tags:
    peace, peace process, settlements, Donald Trump, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel, United States
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