Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he planned to create the first totally new West Bank settlement in 25 years on Thursday.“I had promised from the start that I would create a new settlement. It seems to me that I made that commitment in December and I will keep today. There were will be more details about this in a few hours,” Netanyahu told reporters before meeting with the President of Slovania.He spoke in advance of a security cabinet meeting later in the day, that is scheduled to discuss settlement and activity and the ongoingdiscusstion with the Trump Administration over Jewish West Bank building.Netanyahu had promised the 40 Amona families that he would formally authorize new settlement for them by March 31, through a cabinet or government vote.
He has sought approval from the Trump Administration for the move, but it is unclear if he received it. In the past such has a move has been considered a diplomatic red line that Israel cannot cross.Right-wing politicians fear that the authorization is part of an overall deal Netanyahu is presumed to be working on with the US, to freeze isolated settlement while allowing building in the blocs.The Knesset Land of Israel Caucus wrote an urgent letter to Netanyahu and to government ministers urging them not to make such a link.“We are asking each one of you to fiercely object to any constraints on settlements in Judea and Samaria,” said the caucus co-chairs, MKs Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi).“Certainly, do not agree to any freeze or any limits on building outside the blocs,” they wrote. Acceptance of the concept of the blocs, is akin to accepting a Palestinian state, Yisch and Bezalel wrote. “There is no justification for a right-wing government to do this,” they said.Although Netanyahu publicly accepted the idea of two states for two peoples in his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, he has been under pressure from the caucus to rescind that statement.The Amona families issues a similar call, noting that the issue of a new settlement was a contractual one and had nothing to do with talks between Israel and the US."If no decision to establish a new settlement is taken today, it would be a violation of an agreement and a breach of a governmental obligation,” the families said. It would mean that governmental agreements “are not worth” the paper they are written on, the families added.Separately, the United Jerusalem Fund, urged Netanyahu to reject the Shiloh location and authorize instead a new settlement outside of Jerusalem near the settlements of Ma’aleh Adumi and Kedar.Shiloh is considered an isolated settlement, whereas Ma’aleh Adumim is a city of 38,000 people and is considered to be one of the blocs. The Untied Jerusalem Fund has sought without success authorization for a new settlement they plan to call Givat Adumim.
Trump tells Israel to "hold back on settlements" during meeting with Netanyahu at White House on Feb. 15, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)