Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon downplayed Thursday’s White House critique of the construction of new Israeli settlements, saying that President Donald Trump will determine his policy regarding settlements during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this month.
“I wouldn’t call it a U-turn, the statement is very clear,” Danon told Israel Radio Friday, referring to the common interpretation that the White House’s statement Thursday broke from the Trump administration’s previous softer stance on settlements. “The meaning is: wait until the meeting with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, who arrives in Washington in less than two weeks for a meeting with President [Donald] Trump and then set policy.”
Nevertheless, Danon also noted that Israel is a sovereign state and would determine its own policies.
“We will not be in full agreement with the United States on everything over the next four years, but there is communication and messages are being passed,” Danon said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said Thursday, “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, 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 also said President Trump plans to discuss the topic of settlements with Netanyahu during their Feb. 15 meeting.
Meanwhile, Danon congratulated former ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson on his confirmation as secretary of state during Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.
In a discussion with Tillerson, Danon briefed him on Israel’s activities at the U.N. and “expressed his appreciation for [U.S.] Ambassador Nikki Haley’s commitment to stand strong against anti-Israel resolutions.”