Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu addresses the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by video, March 27, 2017.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Right-wing politicians warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he faces a coalition crisis if he fails to ramp-up building in West Bank settlements.
“If he doesn’t, he won’t be able to open the Knesset’s summer session,” warned MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi). “We demand that the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria meet immediately after the Passover holiday so we can immediately test the cabinet’s decision.”
All the existing plans for settlement construction will be put before the council, “so we can test if the prime minister intends to advance them or not,” he said.
Smotrich spoke after the cabinet on Thursday night had approved a new settlement and reclassified 97.7 hectares (2414.22 acres) in an isolated area of the West Bank as “state land.” It also authorized the publication of tenders for 2,000 settler homes in the settlement bloc.
But the cabinet also agreed to limit building in West Bank settlements
to areas within the existing neighborhoods and not to go beyond those already built-up areas.
It did, however, list a number of exceptions to those limitations. Left-wing politicians and groups such as Peace Now and B’Tselem immediately warned that the restrictions are merely a word game that allow Israel to continue building.
To underscore that point, some right-wing politicians and settlers celebrated the decision, noting that it would allow Jewish building to continue in Judea and Samaria.
On his Twitter page, MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) jubilantly stated that the “not one brick” policy of the previous Obama administration had ended and that a new era has begun.
MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) said the cabinet decision is “a signal and a sign of the renewal of Jewish settlement and the strengthening of our hold on all of the territories of our country.”
Netanyahu: The government supports the settlements in any time
Transportation Minister Israel Katz said that his interpretation of the cabinet decision is that Jerusalem would remain Israel’s united capital, there would be no freeze of settlement activity and that no settlement would be uprooted.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said, “Now, too, the test will lie in action.”
MK Oren Hazan (Likud) tweeted, “Enough with the talking, start putting the bulldozers to use.”
MK Omer Bar Lev (Labor), however, said he understood that there would now be a freeze of settlement activity.
“After you clear away... the cloud of PR smoke [blown] by the confused right-wing government, you [realize] that they’re left with a freezing of the settlement construction, just as [President Donald] Trump had asked them to.”
MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) said he hopes the Trump administration
will stop Israel’s descent into a one-state reality. It’s in Israel’s interest “to strive for a political agreement that would preserve the settlement blocs and not expand isolated settlements, [and by doing so] hurt the option of implementing the two-state solution. The US stance and the coordination with the US are always essential, but in this context, too, we must act according to the Israeli interest, and it is this interest that should guide our activity,” Peretz said.