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Marking New Era, Trump Administration Avoids Condemning Israeli Settlement Expansion

Setting a new tone in its relationship with Israel, the Trump administration passed on an opportunity to criticize Israel for its latest settlement expansion plan.

While previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have consistently condemned new Israeli building in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Trump White House made no such comment.

Asked about the latest [Israeli announcement[(https://forward.com/fast-forward/360988/with-trump-in-power-israel-gives-green-light-to-huge-settlement-expansion/) regarding its intention to build 2,500 new housing units in existing settlements, White House press secretary refused to state any position.

“We will have a conversation with the prime minister,” said Sean Spicer during his Tuesday press briefing, adding that Israel “continues to be a huge ally”.

Barack Obama’s administration repeatedly criticized similar decisions by the Israeli government, describing them as an “obstacle for peace” and as steps that “put into question” Israel’s commitment to a two state solution because new building in the settlements prejudges the outcome of any future negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

During the presidential campaign, Trump’s advisers made clear he will adopt a relaxed approach on settlement expansion.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com

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