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Trump White House silent on new Israeli settlement units

January 24, 2017 GMT
White House press secretary Sean Spicer calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the Dakota Pipeline, infrastructure, jobs and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the Dakota Pipeline, infrastructure, jobs and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the Dakota Pipeline, infrastructure, jobs and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is declining to take a position on Israel’s latest plan to expand Jewish settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians, breaking with past White House criticism but leaving its own policy unclear.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer dodged a question Tuesday on whether the administration supports the Israeli government’s decision to proceed with the construction of 2,500 housing units in the West Bank.

Spicer says the administration is still forming its foreign policy team and that President Donald Trump will discuss settlements and other matters when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits next month.

Trump has pledged to improve U.S. relations with Israel, which were often strained over the settlement issue during the Obama administration. Spicer says Trump remains committed to that goal.