US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said on Wednesday that he is working with Israel to limit West Bank settlement growth including in east Jerusalem.
“The position of the US administration does not support settlement growth,” Nides said, adding that he made that position quite clear to the Israeli government several times.
The ambassador spoke at a press conference following an event in which the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced $6.5 million for nongovernmental projects to benefit Palestinians.
He said the US plans to spend $500 million for Palestinians in 2022, including on UNRWA for Palestinian Refugees.
Since assuming its duties early last year, the administration of President Joe Biden has expressed its opposition to settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Although Washington’s new administration kept operating from the US embassy that former President Donald Trump moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Washington asserted that it considers “East Jerusalem to be occupied.”
Nides himself announced that he would not visit any settlement.
On Wednesday, the US ambassador lauded Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s speech at the UN last week in which he affirmed his support for a two-state resolution to the conflict.
He noted that he had issued similar words when talking with US President Joe Biden in Jerusalem in July.
However, Nides was vague when asked about Lapid’s refusal to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We encourage any bit of dialogue that occurs. Our hope is that it will lead to more conversations. We obviously encourage those conversations to happen. We support his [Lapid’s] continuation of the articulation of the hope of a two-state solution,” the US ambassador stressed.
During his meeting in East Jerusalem, Nides revealed that the King Hussein Bridge, also known as the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting October 24.
In a separate development, the Israeli Foreign Ministry released on Wednesday a poll showing that American students believe that by boycotting the Israeli entity, it would be more likely to change its aggressions against the Palestinian people.
The survey said 56 percent of US students exposed to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement's calls to boycott the “Israeli” entity, said they support the group’s position to boycott Israel.
The survey also showed that 48% of the students in the United States support Israel and believe it is an asset.