President Donald Trump reportedly issued a surprise warning to Israel on Thursday to stop announcing settlements that “undermine” his administration’s efforts to create peace in the Middle East.
A White House official told The Jerusalem Post that Trump is committed to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and that the White House was surprised by Israel’s announcement of thousands of new settlement housing units in the West Bank.
“As President Trump has made clear, he is very interested in reaching a deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is currently exploring the best means of making progress toward that goal,” the official reportedly said. “With that in mind, we urge all parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions that could undermine our ability to make progress, including settlement announcements. The administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.”
The official, according to the report, also elaborated on the two-state solution Trump envisions.
“The United States remains committed to advancing a comprehensive final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security,” the official told the newspaper.
The White House said in a later statement that it had “not taken an official position on settlement activity.”
“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,” press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement. “As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region.”
Trump was a staunch advocate of Israel during his campaign for president. In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Trump said he is a “true friend” of Israel and said there is “no daylight between America and our most reliable ally the state of Israel.”
Trump is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on February 15.
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