Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday sent his chief of staff to Washington, D.C., to continue a discussion with the U.S. about an agreement on West Bank settlement construction restrictions, Haaretz reports.
President Donald Trump in mid-February called on his Israeli counterpart to "hold back on settlements for a little bit" — referring to the Jewish state's aggressive plan to build new housing in disputed areas.
The trip to D.C. Saturday wasn't considered dire, as Netanyahu simply wanted clarification on some aspects of the agreement. The prime minister also wanted to discuss establishing a new settlement for displaced residents of Amona, an illegal outpost built on private Palestinian land.
"Despite the fact that gaps remained vis-à-vis the Americans, Netanyahu does not believe that it constitutes a crisis and [Chief of Staff Yoav] Horowitz did not depart with a sense of there being an emergency," said a senior Israeli official.
Horowitz, foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter and a lawyer from the PMO who deals with the settlements made the trip, reports Haaretz.
Netanyahu last week met with Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump's adviser on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, on the issues. The two spoke for three hours but did not come to an agreement on the restrictions.
"They also made progress on the issue of Israeli settlement construction, following up on President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu's agreement in Washington last month to work out an approach that reflects both leaders' views," said a joint statement released after the meeting. "Those discussions are continuing between the White House and the Prime Minister's Office."
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