To the eternal chagrin of the Republican establishment, Donald Trump’s flair for the vague, insensitive, or unorthodox remark has still not cost the candidate his frontrunner status. As my colleague David Graham noted in October, Trump has been well-served by his twinning of immigration tough-talk with a refrain about raising taxes on the wealthy, embodying a populism otherwise unheard in the Republican Party.
But in recent days, Trump appeared to stray across an inviolable line in the modern GOP platform: a robust, if not unflinching, support for the State of Israel. In an interview with the AP on Wednesday, Trump seemed to lay the onus for securing a long-elusive peace agreement at the feet of the Israelis, and not the Palestinians.
“I have a real question as to whether or not both sides want to make it,” Trump said, before explaining that his concerns predominantly reside with “one side in particular.” He then added:
A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things. They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal.
This is by no means a pro-Palestinian sentiment. If anything, it’s a rhetorical inversion of the frequent argument, especially among conservatives, that Israel has no viable negotiating partner on the Palestinian side and that it shouldn’t be pressured to agree to a peace deal that would compromise its security concerns.