The Trump administration refrained from condemning Israel’s approval for 2,600 new housing units in Judea and Samaria this week, signaling a significant policy shift in Washington.
While every administration over the past half a century, from Lyndon Johnson through Barack Obama, has chastised Israel for the construction of civilian housing units in Judea and Samaria, the Trump White House made no comment as the first housing permits issued since the January 20th inauguration were approved.
Reporters took note of the administration’s silence on the issue during a State Department press conference Thursday.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert acknowledged the housing permits, and noted President Trump’s past statements suggesting that “unrestrained settlement activity” would be unhelpful in advancing the peace process.
“We are aware of the announcement that the government made about 2,500 units in the West Bank. President Trump has talked about this consistently, and he has said, in his opinion, unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance the peace process. He’s been pretty clear about that. It doesn’t help the prospect for peace. That is something that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is important to this administration, and they will keep promoting that.”
But Nauert refused to condemn the 2,600 housing units approved this week by Israel, and when pressed, said that no statements were planned to condemn the decision.
“I’m not aware of any statements, but I’m just not sure what might come up on it.”