Israel rejects US request for construction freeze in Judea and Samaria


( Following meetings this month between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, Israel has reportedly rejected a request by the Trump administration to freeze settlement construction in isolated settlement blocs. 

Jason Greenblatt (left), President Donald Trump’s international negotiations adviser, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier this month. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Greenblatt had reportedly requested, on behalf of the administration, that Israel freeze all construction in isolated settlements and place restrictions on new construction inside large settlement blocs.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, Netanyahu was apparently surprised by the Trump administration’s terms, which “would not oppose the construction of new homes in Jewish neighborhoods over the pre-1967 lines in eastern Jerusalem” and “would accept an agreed number of new homes each year inside the major settlement blocs, while no new homes would be built in isolated settlements.”

The prime minister’s rejection of America’s terms comes amid instability within his governing coalition. Agreeing to the Trump administration’s restrictions on settlement construction would likely aggravate right-wing coalition members and further destabilize Netanyahu’s government. 

Coalition member and Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), a former Israeli construction minister, warned that agreeing to a settlement freeze would “not leave us any choice,” and that he and other right-wing ministers would potentially leave the government in response to such a halt in construction.

Posted on March 23, 2017 .