President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on May 22. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

State Dept.: Israel takes Trump’s concerns about settlements into account


The Israeli government has “implemented a policy” that takes President Donald Trump’s concerns about settlement construction “into account” despite the recent announcement that it advanced plans on 800 homes in Jewish areas of East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman told Jewish Insider on Tuesday.

[This story originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]

Edgar Vasquez, a spokesman for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, added in response to a question about whether the East Jerusalem construction plan was considered restrained, “I’m not going to get into characterizing every announcement.‎”

During the Obama administration, top officials would regularly criticize specific Israeli settlement announcements as a “source of disappointment and deep concern.”

Last week, after the Israeli announcement, the White House issued a statement: “President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements, and the administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace. At the same time, the administration recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks.”

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert noted at the Tuesday press briefing when asked if the location of the settlement, such as on the Palestinian side of the barrier, impacts whether the settlement is considered restrained, “I think that is something that is still under review as you know Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Kushner have made many trips there so I’m going to just defer to them on that issue.”