Netanyahu: We’re negotiating with the White House on settlement building

The prime minister made this statement on Thursday ahead of his second meeting with US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, further stressing his government's commitment to the settlement enterprise.

Netanyahu, Greenblatt  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Netanyahu, Greenblatt
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Israel and the United States are working on a common understanding with regard to settlement construction, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the government on Thursday before heading to a second meeting this week with US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, appointed by President Donald Trump to oversee special international negotiations.
“This afternoon I will meet again with [US] President [Donald] Trump’s Jason Greenblatt. We are in the midst of a process of dialogue with the White House and our intention is to reach an agreed-upon policy regarding settlement construction. Agreed-upon for us, of course, not just for the American side,” Netanyahu said.
“Naturally, this will be good for the State of Israel since we have not been in these processes for many years,” Netanyahu said.
Greenblatt is in the region speaking with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leadership ahead of an anticipated US push for a regional peace deal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In an unusual move, Greenblatt met on Wednesday with settler leaders including Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, who is the chief foreign envoy for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria.
Dagan said afterwards, “we respect Trump and the new government. We’re please there is a supportive government [in Washington.”
Trump tells Israel to "hold back on settlements" during meeting with Netanyahu at White House on Feb. 15, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)
“Our requests are to our government and to our ministers. We must make a drastic change and stop this edicts [against settlement activity] that harm the basic rights" of the residents of Judea and Samaria, Dagan said.
The last US initiative under former US President Barack Obama broke down in April 2014. Palestinians have insisted that talks cannot be renewed unless Israel halts all West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. Israel in turn has called for a renewal of direct talks without pre-conditions.
It’s believed that Netanyahu has proposed to the Americans that Israel be allowed to build in the settlement blocs — including Gush Etzion, Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Modi'in Illit — while freezing construction in the isolated settlements beyond the security barrier.
Netanyahu is under pressure from right wing politicians in his party and his coalition to annex Judea and Samaria, starting with the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
Right wing representatives have also been pressuring him to keep his promise to the Amona families to authorize the first new settlement in 25 years.
Netanyahu said on Thursday, “To the residents of Amona, I reiterate: I gave you a promise to build a new community and I will honor that commitment.”
On Wednesday, senior Fatah official Jabril Rijoub told The Jerusalem Post staff that the Palestinians remain committed to a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines.
“We hear good things from Trump and I think that Trump is not playing games with anyone,” he said.
Rajoub called the settlements a “malignant cancer” and an “existential threat” for Israel. The starting point for talks must be a settlement freeze, he stressed.
“The Israelization policy to make drastic change on the ground — this is your crime by international law. Who is supporting what you are doing?” he argued.
Even the US in December gave its de-facto support to UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning settlement activity, Rajoub continued.
“What is going on is a crime under international law,” he stated and then raised another question- why let “ten-percent of your society lead you to a disaster.”