U.S. welcomes Israel easing restrictions in West Bank
Steps taken by the Israeli government on easing restrictions in the Palestinian territories are "appreciated," U.S. State Department said on Thursday, Xinhua reported.
"We appreciate these positive steps, which are consistent with the Israeli government's commitment to help improve lives of average Palestinians," said spokesman Ian Kelly, referring to Israel's recent easing of restrictions in the West Bank.
Israel has limited its military operations in some Palestinian towns by removing some army checkpoints, and has suspended Jewish settlement activities in the West Bank.
"But we also recognize that there's also more work that has to be done in this regard," said the spokesman, adding "efforts to maintain (Israel's) security while maximizing movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical."
Relations between the United States and Israel have remained in tension recently.
Washington has been pressing the Netanyahu-led Israeli government to totally freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank, while the Israeli government claims that it would continue to support the "natural growth" of the settlements.
A scheduled meeting on Thursday in Paris between U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy George Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was postponed because the gap on the settlement issues between the two sides could not be bridged.