'At the end of the day, the goal is peace'

White House spokesman: Statement about "settlements" is very clear. Netanyahu and Trump will discuss the peace process when they meet.

Elad Benari, Canada,

Sean Spicer
Sean Spicer

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will discuss the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace process during their upcoming meeting in Washington, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Friday.

In his daily briefing, Spicer was asked by reporters about the statement he released on Thursday, which said the administration doesn’t believe the existence of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is an impediment to peace, but asserted that “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

“The President is committed to peace. That’s his goal, and I think that when the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu meet here on the 15th, that will obviously be the topic” of conversation, Spicer said on Friday, adding that “at the end of the day, the goal is peace.”

Pressed by reporters specifically about Thursday’s statement, Spicer added, “I think the statement is very clear about that. We don’t believe that the existence of current settlements is an impediment to peace, but I think the construction or expansion of existing settlements beyond the current borders is not going to be helpful moving forward.”

Thursday’s statement from the White House came just hours after a report in the Jerusalem Post, which quoted an unnamed American official who said that Trump has warned Israel to stop its unilateral announcements of new construction in Judea and Samaria as they “undermine” his efforts to reach a peace agreement.

The Trump administration had up to this point been silent on the issue of Israel’s construction in Judea and Samaria, angering senior PA officials.

Responding earlier on Friday to Spicer’s initial statement, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon dismissed the suggestion that the Trump administration was making a "U-turn" in its policy regarding construction in Judea and Samaria.

“The qualitative significance of the statement is that it says, ‘wait for the meeting in two weeks between President Trump and the Prime Minister, and then we’ll set our policy,'” he said, while emphasizing that, at the end of the day, Israel is in charge of setting policy for itself.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely responded to the White House statement as well, pointing out, "The White House knows that settlements are not an obstacle to peace, and indeed, never constituted an obstacle to peace. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that construction is not the problem either."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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