As US advances Israeli settlement plan, other Jews in East Jerusalem threaten to block peace deal

The Trump administration continued to rattle world capitals on Wednesday with support for Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, while some Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem threatened to cast a shadow over a peace deal Israel hopes to forge with the Palestinians.

The White House, brushing aside opposition from the United Nations and European Union, said the plan will move forward. The U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, again told the Security Council that Israel must halt construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“We will not allow these illegal settlements to prevent the peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Haley said, according to prepared remarks. “Undermining two-state solution is not helpful in achieving that goal.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley brought a reminder to the Security Council that Israel “cannot be allowed to prevent the peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” Image: WPA Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. stance comes as President Donald Trump seeks to jumpstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, focusing on securing a Palestinian state while resolving the decades-old dispute in other areas. Trump is working to close the West Bank “separation wall” and has promised that peace “will happen very quickly.”

Neither the White House nor Haley mentioned President Trump, who is in Japan, by name, in presenting Israel’s construction plan, which was based on U.S. recommendations. A State Department official confirmed Wednesday night that the U.S. view on the settlements hasn’t changed.

The White House said Trump’s Israel-Palestine envoys Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman are working with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restart peace negotiations. It gave no details on the location of the meetings.

U.S. policy, however, has not shifted in the last eight months, since Trump took office, in how it views settlements that have been built since before a 1993 interim peace agreement was finalized.

The White House says that Israeli settlement activity “contributes to the sense of hopelessness and stagnation” in the Palestinian territories, which ultimately undermines Israel’s security.

Haley said “nothing will happen” until the Israeli government “ceases all settlement activity” in the West Bank and “reforms” the Palestinian Authority to block incitement against Israelis and holds militants accountable for attacks.

While the settlements can’t be avoided, “not all of them have to stop,” Haley said. “There is a proper and appropriate amount of settlement activity, but not this level, not at all.”

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