Building new settlements has been a goal of Israel for some time. The possibility of that objective skyrockted upon the election of Donald Trump as United States president, as he had declared himself to be an extremely pro-Israel proponent. Just as it seemed the country would go ahead with their plans, however, Trump himself attempted to put a temporary kibosh on them.

Trump's comments

The declaration came via a statement from the White House. The statement discussed how building new settlements may take away from the possibility of creating an everlasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

The statement noted that Trump doesn't have an official position on the settlement debate, and that one should be forthcoming in the next few weeks or so.

That's because Trump is set to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, in a meeting on February 15. The meeting could mark a pivotal moment, both in terms of the issue of settlements and in terms of the relationship between the United States and Israel going forward. Netanyahu was emboldened by the pro-Israel stance Trump took on the campaign trail, so this is the first test of a relationship that has taken a slight turn.

Settlement issue

The issue of building new settlements in the West Bank is a land dispute on the surface, rooted in deep and divisive religious tension.

Both Palestine and Israel stake a claim to the West Bank, with that territory being part of a divide between the two nations that has never come close to being resolved.

Netanyahu's actions following the election and inauguration of Trump have not helped matters. In the past two weeks alone, Netanyahu has announced the building of 5,000 new settlements in the region, riling up his fan base while drawing clear battle lines with the Palestinians.

Trump has stoked the same energy, promising to move the American embassy to the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. Perhaps he is having a moment of recognition that the path to lasting peace is not through the channels of divisive dialogue.