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Israel, US Conclude Talks without Agreement on Settlements - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Trump administration reiterated its concerns about Israeli settlement activity, the two sides said on Thursday, as they concluded talks in Washington on advancing peace, without agreeing on future construction on land the Palestinians want for a state.

The US delegation, led by President Donald Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt, who recently returned from a visit to the region, reiterated the president’s “concerns regarding settlement activity,” a joint statement read of the four-day high-level meetings, which ended late Thursday.

The Israelis “made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes these concerns into consideration,” the statement read.

There were allegedly “intensive discussions” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.

The Trump administration is looking for ways to revive peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. But it has not publicly detailed what kind of agreement it wants with Israel on settlements.

Much of the international community has raised increasing alarm over settlement expansion, saying it is gradually eating away at prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is seen as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Netanyahu is under pressure from members of his coalition to advance settlement construction, which was a major source of contention with the Obama administration.

The new administration has been slow to curb Israeli settlement announcements and Trump has expressed some ambivalence about a two-state solution, the mainstay of US policy for the past two decades. But he recently invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit.

When meeting Netanyahu at the White House in February, Trump called for Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit”.

A “principal focus” of the talks was ways to alleviate the faltering Palestinian economy in Gaza and the West Bank, the statement read.