White House says new Israeli settlements 'may not be helpful'
Washington (AFP) - The White House said Thursday that building new Israeli settlements or expanding existing ones "may not be helpful" in securing Middle East peace.
"While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful," said spokesman Sean Spicer.
The statement is a break from Trump's previously full-throated defense of Israeli settlement building.
Since Trump came to office Israel has approved a slew of new settlement constructions.
Israel recently unveiled plans for 3,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, the fourth such announcement in the less than two weeks since Trump took office.
Critics say the constructions risk making a two-state solution impossible.
The idea of an Israeli and Palestinian state coexisting has underpinned peace efforts for decades.
Settlements in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians want for their own state.