Trump White House expresses concerns about ‘unrestrained’ building in eastern Jerusalem

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Jerusalem municipality announced that it will approve 800 new homes in Jewish areas of eastern Jerusalem within the next month, prompting an expression of concern from the Trump Administration about “unrestrained” building.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, according to The Associated Press, said Wednesday that construction in Jerusalem is “essential, important and will continue full force.”

Following the announcement, a White House official expressed concerns about the proposal.

“President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements and the Administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace,” the official said in an email to JTA. “At the same time the Administration recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks.

“As we have demonstrated in recent trips and conversations with the parties, the Trump Administration is committed to and focused on doing everything possible to advance the prospects of a historic, conflict-ending agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. We are moving towards that goal and productive conversations are ongoing.”

In February, Trump called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to slow settlement construction, and last month his son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner, visited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to assess the prospects for restarting peace talks.

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