The White House has said that the US will continue talks with Israel about its settlement activity on occupied Palestinian territory.

“I’m sure that we’ll continue to have conversations with the Prime Minister (on Israeli settlement activity),” Xinhua news agency quoted White House spokesman Sean Spicer as saying on Monday.

“That’ll be something the President will continue to discuss.”

Israeli authorities announced on Friday that the country intended to build 15,000 new settlement houses in East Jerusalem despite President Donald Trump’s earlier call for holding back new settlement activities for a possible new effort to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In response, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told the media that the new Israeli settlement plan was a “deliberate sabotage” of efforts to resume negotiations.

The new settlement activity came as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prepared to visit the White House later this week.

The White House said last month that Trump and Abbas would “reaffirm the commitment of both the US and Palestinian leadership to pursuing and ultimately concluding a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel.”

In another statement in March, the White House said Trump in his first phone call told Abbas that he believed peace between Palestine and Israel was possible.

In a major departure from the longtime policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump in February said he was open to either a one-state or two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I’m looking at two-state, one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump said at a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, Trump also asked Netanyahu to “hold back” on building new settlement “for a little bit”.

The former US administration under Barack Obama often criticised Israel’s continuous expansion of the settlements, which Washington considered as a major obstacle to peace.

First Published | 2 May 2017 11:17 AM
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