Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are “illegitimate” and not helpful to ongoing efforts for peace between Palestine and Israel.
Kerry’s comments today came after he met Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in Bais Lechem.
“Let me emphasize that the position of the United States is that we consider now, and have always considered, the settlements to be illegitimate,” he said.
He added that there was no deal that the Palestinians recognized the illegal settlements in return for peace.
“I want to make it extremely clear that at no time did the Palestinians in any way agree, as a matter of going back to the talks, that they could somehow condone or accept the settlements,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, in Yerushalayim, said Kerry’s statement was strong for a US politician. “In the past the phrase has been that the Israeli settlements are ‘not helpful’,” he said.
Kerry also announced that the US would provide $75 million to aid the Palestinian economy.
Read more at Al Jazeera.