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The resolution was a striking rupture with past practice by President Barack Obama who had the U.S. abstain rather than veto the measure as president-elect Donald Trump demanded. Later on, Netanyahu will agree to the Trump administration's call for restraint in construction in general and for Israel to continue construction only within the existing settlement blocs.

In December, the United Nations passed a resolution that slammed Israeli settlements as a "flagrant violation" of worldwide law.

The wording may be politically useful to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under unrelenting pressure from his right-wing coalition to forge ahead expanding settlements. He pointed out that 5500 settlements units were announced to be built in January 2017, and that 145 houses were demolished in Area C in addition to 48 other demolitions in East Jerusalem.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Trump's demand that Netanyahu declare a construction freeze was a precondition for having Saudi Arabia join a regional peace process.

"The United States delegation reiterated President Trump's concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving toward a peace agreement", it said.

The Israelis "made clear that Israel's intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes these concerns into consideration", the statement read.

CNN reported on Friday that according to US, Israeli and Arab officials, the United States has moved closer to an agreement with Israel on limiting settlement construction and thus closer to resuming peace talks with the Palestinians.

Senior administration officials conducted four days of intensive talks with their Israeli counterparts focused on "concrete near-term measures to improve the overall climate in order to advance the prospects for a genuine and lasting peace", both governments said in a joint statement.

Following the meeting with Greenblatt, Abbas's office stated that the Palestinian leader believes "that under President Trump's leadership a historic peace deal is possible, and that it will enhance security throughout the region". "I can live with either one", the president said.

"The sharp increase in settlement construction sends a clear message to the Palestinians and to the global community that Israel is not interested in a two-state solution", Peace Now said. "If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, then I'm happy with the one they like the best", Trump said.


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