US says settlements ‘may not be helpful’ but no official stance until Trump meets Netanyahu

The White House sent mixed signals about Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria but says it will not taken an official position until President Trump meets with Netanyahu.

President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed in a statement on Thursday evening that the Trump administration has yet to adopt an official stance on Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.

“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,” Spicer said.

Trump’s press secretary also stressed that the Trump administration does not perceive Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to be roadblocks to peace.

“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,” he added.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office responded by stating that Netanyahu “looks forward to his meeting with President Trump on February 15 in which they will speak about a wide range of issues, including this one.”

Spicer made his remarks as a report in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday evening claimed that “for the first time, the administration confirmed that Trump is committed to a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict negotiated between the parties.”

According to the Jerusalem Post report, an unnamed senior official in the White House said that “we urge all parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions that could undermine our ability to make progress, including settlement announcements.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told Israel Radio that he “would not categorize this as a U-turn by the US administration” which has avoided making any criticism of Israel’s recently announced plans to build thousands of new homes in Judea and Samaria.

Notably, Trump’s advisor on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, had previously said that Trump does not view Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to be obstacles to peace.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News