An Israeli delegation arrived in Washington on Sunday to hold talks with the White House about settlement activity.Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer will join the delegation, which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.Netanyahu’s office and the Trump administration “want to come to an understanding” on this issue, an Israeli official said.These talks are the continuation of conversations that were held last week, when US special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt visited Israel and the Palestinians territories. Greenblatt met with Netanyahu twice during his trip.Greenblatt and Dermer are the point people for the process.US President Donald Trump has asked Netanyahu to constrain settlement construction, just as the prime minister is under pressure from rightwing politicians to increase such building.Prior to meeting with Greenblatt last week, Netanyahu said he intended to keep his promise to the Amona evacuees to build a settlement for them.Horowitz and Schacter are expected to bring up the issue in Washington.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu managed to pressure right-wing politicians to delay a Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote on whether the government will support a bill to annex the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.Both the creation of settlements and annexation plans for the West Bank have in the past been redlines that the US has insisted Israel must not cross.A bill to annex Ma’aleh Adumim has been on the committee’s agenda for weeks, but each time it has been delayed.On Sunday, it was one of six private member bills that were not debated, because it is customary for the committee not to take up such bills during the last meeting before the end of a Knesset session.The Knesset breaks for Passover at the end of this week and returns to work only in May. Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, who has been a vocal advocate for the bill, said he could weather one more delay.“It will come back up in six weeks,” he said. He urged Netanyahu to take the historic step of supporting the bill, which would also need to pass three Knesset readings.
Trump Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with PA President Abbas on March 14, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)