White House 'welcomes' Israeli position on settlements, amid expansion

Despite the administration's earlier characterizations of settlement construction as "unhelpful," Israel has approved over 10,000 new homes in Israeli settlements since Trump took office.

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May 31, 2018 00:05
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White House 'welcomes' Israeli position on settlements, amid expansion

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque. (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

 
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WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration declined on Wednesday to specifically condemn Israel's approval of over 2,000 new settler homes to be constructed in the West Bank, despite noting of the president's past statements discouraging future settlement growth.

Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has characterized Israeli construction in the West Bank as "unhelpful" to the pursuit of peace. In his first month in office, he asked Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to hold back on construction approval.

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Trump tells Israel to 'hold back on settlements' during meeting with Netanyahu at White House on Feb. 15, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)

But since that time, the Netanyahu government has approved over 10,000 new homes for Israeli settlers– an unprecedented pace of activity.

"The president has made his position on new settlement activity clear, and we encourage all parties to continue to work towards peace," a National Security Council spokesperson said. And "the Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the president’s concerns into consideration."

"The United States welcomes this," the official added. "As the president has said repeatedly, the Administration is firmly committed to pursuing a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

Trump has directed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his envoy to Israel, David Friedman; and his special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, to forge a plan for a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace. The plan is said to be complete, but the team is waiting for a ripe political moment to release it.


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