Israel to limit settlement ‘footprint,’ new homes only inside building lines
No commitment made to restrict construction to large settlement blocs.
By HERB KEINONUpdated: MARCH 31, 2017 15:40
Israel will restrict its building beyond the Green Line to the built-up areas of existing settlements, the security cabinet decided Thursday night after nearly three weeks of discussions on the matter with the US government.The guiding principle behind the new guidelines is to limit as much as possible Israel's settlement “footprint” beyond the existing communities. Sources said the decision was taken out of consideration of the position of US President Donald Trump, and that Israel will also significantly curb building to enable efforts to advance a diplomatic process with the Palestinians.Israel, according to the security cabinet decision, will -- as much as possible -- only permit building within the existing construction lines of the settlements, a principle that was also informally employed during much of George W. Bush's tenure.In areas where this is not possible because there is no more available land inside the settlements, construction will take place close to the existing construction line. Where this too is impossible because of issues of land ownership, or security or topographic considerations, Israel will build as close to the existing settlement as possible.The decision says nothing about restricting construction to the settlement blocs or to communities within the security fence.Israel also committed itself not to permit the establishment of new wildcat outposts.The new guidelines, aimed to remove settlement construction as a bone of contention with Washington at the outset of the new administration, come after nearly three weeks of talks between the US and Israel. The US team was led by Trump's envoy Jason Greenblatt, and Israel's team was led by Netanyahu's chief-of-staff Yoav Horowitz, and Israel's ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.Earlier Thursday evening the Prime Minister's Office announced that the security cabinet approved the establishment of a new settlement – the first one in over a quarter-century – for the evacuees from Amona. This new settlement will be established near Shilo.