Donald Trump declined Thursday how he would refer to the West Bank
The question came from a reporter with Forward, a leading Jewish newspaper
Donald Trump took a pass when asked Thursday how he would refer to the West Bank, territory hotly contested by Israelis and Palestinians, and asked his company’s top attorney – who is Jewish – for an answer.
“Jason, how would you respond to that?” Trump said, turning to Jason Greenblatt, the chief legal officer for the Trump Organization.
The question came from a reporter with the Forward, a leading Jewish newspaper, during a meeting Trump held Thursday with two dozen reporters from Jewish and Israel-focused publications and Orthodox activists, according to the outlet.
Trump did not offer up a name for the territory. Many Israelis call the area, which their government controls, by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria, terms often embraced by pro-Israel activists and evangelical Christians.
Instead, Trump said simply that there are “many words that I’ve seen to describe it,” before deferring to Greenblatt.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment asking how Trump would refer to the area, home to the Palestinian Authority and a key part of the territory Palestinians claim for an independent state.
The United States government calls the territory the West Bank and successive administrations have consistently urged the Israeli government to cease new construction of Israeli settlements there, which most legal experts view as contrary to international law.
Trump’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have consistently faced close scrutiny.
Trump first said late last year that he would like to remain “neutral” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to better negotiate a peace settlement in the decades-old conflict.
The Republican front-runner then delivered a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., during which he sought to remove any doubt about his support for the Jewish state.
Trump made no mention of his neutrality pledge, instead promising to be a stalwart partner for Israel as president and leveling a hefty critique of Palestinian society, which he claimed glorifies terrorism.
Trump hasn’t always been in line with his party’s base in answering questions on the conflict.
Speaking before an audience of Jewish Republican donors in November, Trump declined to say whether he would support recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided, undisputed capital of Israel – a position favored by Israel supporters on the right.