United States stresses 'concern' with Israeli settlements after intensive talks

The United Nations headquarters in New York
The United Nations headquarters in New York
Author

25 March, 2017

"The United States delegation reiterated President Trump's concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement". The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel's intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration.

Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, who recently returned from a visit to the region, led the USA delegation in what were described as "intensive discussions" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.

"The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing", the statement said.

A White House statement issued Thursday night at the conclusion of four days of talks between Israeli and U.S. officials in Washington indicated that the USA expects that Israel will be curbing construction of housing in West Bank areas claimed by Palestinians for a future state.

Washington chose not to use its veto to bloc the document, prompting a furious response from Israel, which summoned the United States ambassador and launched a series of diplomatic measures against countries backing the bill.

The talks come after Greenblatt's visit to the region last week, which featured two long meetings with Netanyahu and a meeting with Palestinian leaders.

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A senior Israeli official denies Israeli media reports the Trump administration is restricting Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.

It did not give the circumstances, but said the shooting happened near the Jelazoun Palestinian refugee camp.

Trump has expressed some ambivalence about a two-state solution, the mainstay of USA policy for the past two decades.

"The sharp increase in settlement construction sends a clear message to the Palestinians and to the global community that Israel is not interested in a two-state solution", Peace Now said.

Despite striking a more supportive tone toward Israel than former president Barack Obama, Trump urged Netanyahu during a White House meeting last month to "hold back on settlements for a little bit". Abbas's office said that he told Greenblatt during their meeting that he believed a "historic peace deal is possible" under Trump's leadership. He has told both parties that now is the time for negotiations.

Shapiro still reserved criticism for President Donald Trump's White House in his comments, adding, "I can't quite explain why on this one issue they're closer to the norm than they've been on other issues".


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