Politics, Middle East

Israel PM meets with Trump aide on settlement building

Trump’s aide is expected to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday

14.03.2017
Israel PM meets with Trump aide on settlement building

By Kaamil Ahmed

JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks Sunday night with an aide to U.S. President Donald Trump on settlement building in Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The meeting in Jerusalem followed an agreement between Netanyahu and Trump last month to set up a joint working team on settlements, despite construction in the occupied West Bank having been rejected by previous administrations as illegal under international law. 

A statement from Netanyahu's office said he and Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations Ron Greenblatt "continued discussions relating to settlement construction in the hope of working out an approach that is consistent with the goal of advancing peace and security." 

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Greenblatt's visit was focused on assessing how to revive stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. 

Trump’s aide is expected to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday. 

While Netanyahu has noted there are still differences of opinion between Israel and the U.S. on settlement building, Trump has broken with previous U.S. policy by not criticizing announcements of new settlement construction and appointing the staunchly pro-settler David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. 

During their meeting in Washington D.C. last month, Trump told Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a little bit." 

Settlement activity has been on the rise since Trump was sworn in in January-- thousands more have been approved in three separate plans. 

Approximately 500,000 Israelis now live in more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built since Israel occupied the Palestinian West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. 

The Palestinians want these areas -- along with the Gaza Strip -- for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

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