The new Trump administration will “discuss” and “have a conversation” with Israel regarding recently approved construction in the West Bank settlements, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing on Tuesday.
The tone of the comments marks a departure from the blanket condemnation of all construction in the settlements typical of all spokespeople from the previous administration.
According to Spicer, new US President Donald Trump “wants to grow closer with Israel and make sure that it gets the full respect that it deserves in the Middle East.”
“Israel,” Spicer said, responding to a question about the approval on Sunday of permits for hundreds of new homes and the advancement of construction programs in various planning stages to about 2,500 housing units, “continues to be a huge ally of the United States. … We’re going to have a meeting with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and we will continue to discuss that.”
“We’ll have a conversation with the prime minister,” Spicer said when pressed further on the issue, according to the Algemeiner.
The White House invited Netanyahu to meet with President Trump in Washington DC next month.
Earlier in the briefing, Spicer refused to comment on the Obama administration’s last-minute move to transfer $221 million to the Palestinian Authority and the PA’s use of American taxpayers’ money to pay salaries to terrorists and their families.
Trump was “very concerned about how taxpayer money is spent, whether it’s sent overseas and what we get for it in terms of the relationship or our support for a democracy or aid to another country for their defenses,” Spicer was quoted by the Algemeiner as saying. “But he’s going to be examining all aspects of the budget. … He’s going to make sure that every deal, every dollar that is spent by the government is done in a way that respects the American taxpayer.”