Friday, March 31, 2017

Israel "to slow" West Bank construction in deference to Trump's request

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a slowdown of West Bank settlement construction out of respect for President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu said, in reference to the Trump White House, "This is a very friendly administration and we need to take his requests into consideration," The Washington Post reported Friday, citing the Israeli publication Haaretz.

The Israeli construction of communities in the West Bank for Jewish settlers remains a controversial practice; it has been criticized as illegal by the United Nations and by governments, including the Obama administration. It is regarded as an impediment to a two-state solution in the Middle East, and Palestinians in the West Bank consider it an expansion of Israel into what they consider their future homeland.

Trump urged Netanyahu to slow the building of West Bank communities when they met in February, and Netanyahu later said it was a topic on which the two leaders did not see "eye to eye." Trump has suggested the revival of a two-state solution, a nation for Palestine adjacent to the existing nation of Israel, could be the most viable option for peace, and has advocated the resumption of discussions.

Netanyahu's position is complicated by right-wing politicians within Israel who are eager to see additional expansion into the West Bank. There have been no new settlements built in recent years, but existing settlement have grown.

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