Netanyahu Backpedals on New Settlement, Tells Ministers Israel at Odds With Trump
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his security cabinet on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s request that Israel rein in construction in West Bank settlements makes it difficult to push for the establishment of a new settlement for evacuees of the illegal outpost of Amona.
Netanyahu told the ministers they will probably need to come up with another solution for the evacuees, despite the promise to build a new settlement for them, two senior officials who were informed of the contents of the meeting, but asked to remain anonymous due to the fact that this was a closed meeting, said.
In a cabinet meeting before the security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu was asked by the ministers regarding his visit with Trump. Ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel asked Netanyahu what was said about the new settlement the government promised to build for those evacuated from Amona and stressed that the promise should be kept.
Netanyahu, who, for a long time told emphasized to the ministers Trump’s willingness to fully coordinate with Israel on security and strategic issues, said that while a solution needs to be found for Amona evacuees, the creation of a new settlement is not high on the priority list.
“With all due respect to Amona, we need to focus now on coordinating with Trump on the issue of Iran,” said Netanyahu. “This issue is a top priority; I don’t care how many tweets people here write.”
On Thursday, Channel 2’s Udi Segal reported that due to the U.S. president’s stance that Israel must rein in settlement construction Netanyahu was reconsidering his promise for a new settlement for Amona evacuees. On Sunday, the chairman of the coalition, MK David Bitan, confirmed the report to Kol Barama radio. “He’s looking into the issue of a certain slowdown of construction in the settlements,” Bitan said. “They’ll give Amona people adequate housing in Judea and Samaria. They was a separate settlement and the prime minister is reexamining it.”
Netanyahu told the cabinet that Israel and the Trump administration are at odds over settlement construction, and that a joint team led by Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and Trump’s adviser Jason Greenblatt will seek to reach understandings on the subject. A similar effort was made after Netanyahu’s meeting with then-President Barack Obama in 2009. Six months after a joint team was formulated, Netanyhau agreed to a partial freeze of settlement construction in the West Bank for 10 months.