U.S., Israel Talks on Settlement Policy ‘Inconclusive,’ White House Says

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jason Greenblatt (L), President Trump’s Middle East envoy with Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Yerushalayim on March 13. (Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Handout via Reuters)

No conclusions have been reached between Israel and the United States after talks between the two sides on the scope of Israeli settlement activity in Yehudah and Shomron, the White House said in a statement Thursday night. The statement came after an American team lead by U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt discussed the matter with Israeli officials in Washington after Mr. Greenblatt visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority in recent days.

The U.S. said that it had “concerns” about Israeli policy, but that the discussions would continue. “The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement,” according to a joint statement released by the White House.

“The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration. The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing,” it added.

One thing both sides agreed upon was the need to better the economic situation in Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. “A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential,” the statement said, adding that Israel supported the initiative.

Earlier in the week, a report said that the U.S. had requested that Israel institute a “restrained” building policy, and institute a building freeze, at least outside the settlement blocs, but Israeli officials on Thursday denied this. “Any purported U.S. demands of Israel in talks regarding the settlements during Mr. Greenblatt’s visit, are false,” the officials said.