The Trump administration said on Thursday Israel’s building of new settlements or expansion of existing ones in occupied territories may not be helpful in achieving peace with Palestinians, adopting a more measured tone than its previous pro-Israel announcements.
In a statement issued two weeks before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to visit U.S. President Donald Trump, the White House said the administration “has not taken an official position on settlement activity.”
Trump, a Republican, has signaled he could be more accommodating toward settlement projects than his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. The latest statement reflects slightly more nuanced language on how the new administration views 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,” the White House said in a statement.
The statement could disappoint Israel’s far-right which had hoped Trump would give an unqualified green light on rapid settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem – areas Israel captured in the 1967 war.
Former president Obama routinely criticized settlement construction plans and his administration often described settlement activity as lacking legitimacy and impeding peace.
The White House statement came as Israel has ratcheted up settlement activity. On Wednesday, it said it would establish a new settlement in the occupied West Bank, the first since the late 1990s. It also announced plans for 3,000 more settlement homes in the West Bank, the third such declaration in less than two weeks since Trump took office.
An announcement a week ago by Israel that it would build some 2,500 more dwellings in the West Bank, territory captured in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war and where Palestinians now seek statehood, drew rebukes from the Palestinians and the European Union.
(Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Eric Beech and Bill Rigby)
Trump campaign demands media ‘retract’ claim that protesters were tear gassed at the White House
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's campaign released a statement demanding that media outlets "correct or retract" the reporting that protesters were tear gassed outside the White House.
The campaign cited claims from the National Park Service that tear gas was not used, only smoke and pepper balls — which is still disputed by journalists who were on the scene.
The campaign further asserted that a stash of blunt objects was discovered in the vicinity of the protest, and therefore the protest could not be described as "peaceful" — even though reporters did not see any acts of violence from the crowd prompting the police and military to clear the area.
Protesters in Lafayette Park hit with gas for second night in a row: report
On Tuesday, with just minutes before the D.C. curfew was scheduled to take effect, protesters gathered in Lafayette Park, piling up against the White House fence.
According to reporters, tear gas was released for the second night in a row — hitting some of the demonstrators.
It’s 25 minutes to curfew, and protestors are bracing for it. There’s an 8-foot fence around Lafayette Park. Most of the police are inside. Some DHS FPS are on Vermont Ave. Some DC Police are up on K. pic.twitter.com/CgOobT334H
Protesters march on mayor’s mansion in NYC as criticism grows against Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been highly criticized for his response to the protests against police violence.
The mayor has been criticized by protesters and the press for violence inflicted by the New York Police Department.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted the city's response.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) also criticized the mayor, for not doing his job.
Here are some of the scenes of protesters marching on Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of NYC. Built in 1799, NYPD is trying to protect the building.