Palestine

PLO slams US silence over Israel settlement plans

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has expressed shock over the US silence with regard to the new Israeli plans to build more illegal settlements in the West Bank.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat on Wednesday lashed out at the White House for its refusal to comment on Israel’s settlement expansion plans in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem al-Quds, and called on President Donald Trump’s administration to clarify its stance.

“We used to hear condemnations, we used to hear American positions saying ‘(Israel) should stop settlement activities, it’s an obstacle to peace,'” Erekat said.

“Not commenting, does that mean that President Trump is encouraging… settlement activities? We need an answer from the American administration,” he added.

Erekat called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its policies and added that Tel Aviv has been emboldened by “what they consider encouragement by American President Donald Trump.”

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and minister of military affairs Avigdor Liberman announced the approval of 2,500 housing units in the West Bank. The announcement came on top of approval of another plan last week for construction of 566 residential units in several neighborhoods of the Jerusalem al-Quds.

The White House spokesman Sean Spicer refused to take a stance on the issue on Tuesday.

“Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States. He (Trump) wants to grow closer to Israel to make sure it gets the full respect in the Middle East,” Spicer said in response to a question about Trump’s stance on Israel’s new settlement construction.

“We will have a conversation with the [Israeli] prime minister,” he noted.

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