White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, told reporters on Thursday that while the Trump administration didn’t consider Israeli settlements an impediment for peace, they think that further expansion of existing Israeli settlements may not be useful.
Israelis have been expecting the US President Donald Trump to be more pro-Israel than former President Obama.
One common Israeli expectation that would mark Trump as “pro-Israel” is to be supportive of expanding illegal Israeli settlements into Palestinian lands- a move that the US condemned during President Obama’s last few weeks.
Criticism was sparked when the White House Representative, Sean Spicer, said on Thursday that the Trump administration did not think expansion of existing Israeli settlements would be helpful.
Israeli Settlement Expansion
Even after the US condemned further expansion of Israeli settlements under President Obama, Israel continued to approve over 6,000 homes for settlers on the disputed land since Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Netanyahu also pledged to build new settlements for the first time in 25 years.
Israeli nationalists such as Netanyahu, defend the expansion of settlements on the grounds of security as well as historic Jewish ties to the land.
However, most UN members believe that the settlements are illegal. It is believed to be at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and an impediment to a two-state solution.
Comments on Sean Spencer’s Statement
On Thursday, Sean Spencer told reporters that the Trump administration did not think the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, but that “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful.”
Many headlines in news articles claim that this is a “U-turn” from Donald Trump’s usual rhetoric about Israel. However, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, insisted that the comments by Spencer were not a “U-turn” in US support for Israeli settlements.