ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports:The White House has some strong words following reports that Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu intends to approve hundreds of more homes in West Bank settlements, before the expected slowdown and limitations on settlement building.
The White House as well as the Palestinian and Arab world has insisted on a complete settlement freeze, as a condition of restarting peace talks.
“We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction,” a paper statement from the White house released this morning says, “Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel's commitment under the Roadmap. As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop.”
The White House says they are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and actions like Israel’s this week, make it harder to create such a climate.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insisted that progress is still being made, despite moves like today, and that no one ever thought it would be a “smooth, glide path.”
“There will be bumps along the way with all those involved,” Gibbs told reporters this morning.
The White House praised Israel’s intent in the place to place limits on settlement activity – and said they will continue to discuss this with the Israeli as the limitations are defined.
“The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is and will remain unshakeable,” The White House said, “We believe it can best be achieved through comprehensive peace in the region, including a two-state solution with a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.”
The President’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, will return to the region next week, in a previously scheduled trip, to discuss the settlement freeze with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.