The talks between Israel and the Trump Administration regarding “restraining” settlement construction as a means to encourage Palestinian Authority participation in future peace negotiations have been suspended, Israel Radio reported Sunday morning.
According to the report, no understandings or summaries were reached in the most recent, four-day round of talks between Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu’s and President Donald Trump’s representatives in Washington DC. As a result, the prime minister has decided to adopt a new policy which unilaterally accepts the President’s position but is not part of an official, bilateral agreement with the White House.
Netanyahu presented this decision to his cabinet on Thursday. The same cabinet meeting also passed a unanimous decision to build Amona 2, near the Shiloh community in Samaria. The same meeting also decided to disallow new unsanctioned outposts outside the settlements block in Judea and Samaria and to enforce real curbs on new construction inside the blocks.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) on Friday issued a statement saying that despite the fact that Netanyahu’s decision leaves some wiggle room for new construction, in reality, “our experience with Netanyahu is very bad” when it comes to real outcomes.
Smotrich also pointed out that by announcing the release for sale of 2,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria, the PM had, in effect, admitted that he had been the one who blocked the sale of those same 2,000 new units which he himself had approved two months earlier – suggesting that the entire plan, for 5,500 new housing units, was nothing more than a bluff.
Smotrich called on his colleagues on the right to keep their finger on the pulse and not allow Netanyahu “dissolve the construction effort.”