Biden Administration Will Not Prevent Settlement Expansion, Says Source Close To Prime Minister

After public objection by the United States to the Israeli advance of some 3,000 settlement houses in the West Bank earlier this week, a source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the Biden administration doesn’t really care and will not prevent future moves. Similar.

“Contrary to the impression they are trying to give, the Americans do not care much about the decision of the Ministry of Construction and Housing, and they have no problem tolerating it,” the source said, according to a Friday report from The Times of Israel’s sister site, Zman Yisrael.

“This construction is not part of the conversation that we are having with the Americans. We realized that. Americans understand the political situation here very well, and they don’t want to see us fall for this. [issue]. They also know what the alternative is, ”Zman Yisrael said, citing a source close to Bennett.

On Wednesday, the Defense Ministry’s top planning council, which authorizes the construction of the West Bank, said 1,804 units received final approval for construction. Another 1,326 housing units went to a later stage of the planning process.

It is the first time settlement units have been approved during the Biden administration and by the current Israeli government led by Bennett. The plan was originally scheduled to be approved two months ago, but was stopped by the Civil Administration, the governing body that operates in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, the US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s plans to promote new settlements, including many deep in the West Bank.

“We strongly oppose settlement expansion, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to reduce tensions and ensure calm, and damages the prospects for a two-state solution,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price, to journalists in Washington.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Gantz on Tuesday to express similar objections regarding the scope and location of the settlement approvals, another Israeli official confirmed.

New housing construction in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, south of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, on October 13, 2020 (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

Separately, Zman Yisrael quoted the source as saying that the Bennett-led government believes the Biden administration will avoid reopening the US consulate in Jerusalem, the de facto mission to the Palestinians in Israel’s capital.

“This is our perception and these are the messages that we are transmitting and receiving, and it does not matter what is published about it,” said the source.

The consulate was closed by former US President Trump in 2019 and its staff transferred to the US embassy, ​​transferred to the city a year earlier, in what the Palestinians saw as a degradation of their ties with the United States. United.

US officials maintain that the reopening of the consulate is simply a return to the pre-Trump status quo and part of Biden’s commitment to renew relations with the Palestinians that were cut off during the previous administration. In addition, they note that nearly a dozen other countries already operate consulates in Jerusalem that serve the Palestinians.

However, Israel is opposed to the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the consulate, seeing it as an usurpation of its sovereignty in the city and one that will lead to an onslaught of other countries moving to open diplomatic offices in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinians. .

View of the US consulate in Jerusalem on October 27, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

And regarding the illegal Evyatar outpost in the West Bank, which its settlers recently evacuated while the government conducts a survey of the land to determine its status, the source said that some of the land is state-owned and not private Palestinian property.

The source close to Bennett cited by Zman Yisrael said he plans to build a yeshiva on the hill once the survey is completed, according to an agreement between the Defense Ministry and settlers at the outpost.

“The whole history of Evyatar is a landmine left to us by Benjamin Netanyahu before we formed this government. We managed to dismantle this landmine. There is no reason to give Netanyahu another landmine against the government, “added the source.

“This is a right-wing government,” the source told Zman Yisrael. “Everybody understands this.”

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