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Trump comes out against Israeli settlements

AP/Evan Vucci

In a shocking about-face, the Trump administration released a statement outlining their opposition to new settlements by Israel in the West Bank and other regions claimed by Palestinians.

“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace," the statement read, "the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

The White House stated that this is not considered an "official position," but indicated that President Trump would further discuss the issue in a meeting planned with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for Feb. 15.

Before the inauguration, President Trump and his allies had been very critical of the Obama administration for abstaining from the vote which allowed the United Nations to condemn Israeli settlements. This new statement seems to be more in line with that policy, although it does not necessarily mean that Trump would have allowed the United Nations to condemn the settlements.

Trump had even voiced his opposition via his Twitter account, saying that Obama was treating Israel with "disdain and disrespect" by abstaining from the United Nations vote.

Trump had also loudly proclaimed his support to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a show of support for Israel's claim to the holy and ancient city, but walked back the policy later, saying it could take years to do so. Israel had announced an expansion of settlements after Trump's show of support, leading many to believe he had emboldened the controversial policy.

Trump also showed support for Israel when he froze the $221 million payment Obama released to the Palestinians just hours before Trump's inauguration. The funds, which were seen as a last jab at Israel, are under investigation to make sure they do not break U.S. law.

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