— -- The construction of new Israeli settlements "may not be helpful in achieving" peace between Israelis and Palestinians, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today.
While the Trump administration does not believe the "existence of settlements is an impediment to peace," Spicer said, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders is unadvisable.
"As the president has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region," Spicer said in a statement. "The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month."
The United Nations in December voted on a resolution to end Israeli settlements. Then President-elect Donald Trump called for the resolution in question to be vetoed, stating that "peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations."
Shortly after the U.N. resolution passed, Trump tweeted that "things will be different" after Jan. 20, the day he was sworn in as president.
The Israeli government ramped up the settlement expansion amid Trump's transition to the presidency. Days after his inauguration, Israel announced the approval of more than 3,000 new units in East Jerusalem, land that the international community generally accepts as “occupied” Palestinian territory, while Israel does not.