World Bulletin / News Desk
A new spat emerged between the Israeli government and Washington over Jewish settlements on Tuesday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel and the West Bank for the first time in more than a year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the recognition of some existing settlement blocs in exchange for steps to ease tensions with the Palestinians with the State Department in Washington rejecting any suggestion the U.S. would alter its longstanding opposition to settlements or recognize them as legitimate outside of a peace agreement.
Kerry told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting on Tuesday that the United States would not agree to recognize construction in the West Bank settlement blocs in exchange for Israeli steps in the West Bank, as Netanyahu had suggested during their meeting in the U.S. two weeks ago.
US Secretary of State Kerry expressed sympathy Tuesday for the Palestinians’ “very dire” situation, but also spoke of his concern “about the violence,” while stressing the ongoing US commitment to a Palestinian state.
“I am here at the request of President Obama to see what we can do to try to help contribute to calm and to restore people’s confidence in the ability of a two-state solution to still be viable, to be achieved at some point,” Kerry said in brief remarks after meeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
“We are committed to that two states with two peoples living side by side,” he said. “The United States will continue to work as hard as possible to achieve that end.”