The Trump administration on Thursday told Israel to stop constructing new settlements because it may not help bring peace with Palestinians.
In the past, President Trump has suggested that he would break away from Obama-era foreign policy to form better relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly surprised the White House by announcing the construction of 5,500 new housing units in the West Bank last week.
“The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years,” the White House statement reads. “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”
“As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region,” the statement adds. “The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”
In an interview with the CBS program 60 Minutes, former President Obama discussed his decision to abstain from the United Nations vote to condemn the construction of Israeli settlements.
“Because of our investment in the region, and because we care so deeply about Israel, I think [the US] has a legitimate interest in saying to a friend, ‘This is a problem,'” he explained. “It would have long-term consequences for peace and security in the region, and the United States.”