In ten days, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Tuesday, Chevron would see a revival of construction — because “there will be no more excuses,” she said on a tour of Me’aras Hamachpelah and the Avraham Avinu neighborhood of the city. “I have chosen to come here at the exact time that the world is condemning Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria,” she said on the visit. “I want to strengthen Jewish settlement in general, and especially here in Chevron. It is unacceptable that construction has been held up here so long.”
On January 20, of course, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as president of the United States, and politicians of all political stripes expect American policy on Yehudah and Shomron to change radically. David Friedman, Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel to replace the outgoing Dan Shapiro, said that he looked forward to carrying out his assignment in “Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” A Trump spokesperson had already said earlier that the president-elect took the idea of moving the embassy “very seriously.”
In an interview on the day after the election, Friedman, an attorney who has worked with President-elect Donald Trump for decades and during the campaign advised him on Israel and Jewish affairs, told Army Radio that “Israel will have an extraordinarily good friend in the White House, one who will treat Israel with love and respect, and one who appreciates the miracle of Israel. It will be a very welcome change from the past eight years.”
Speaking Tuesday, Shaked said that “this place belongs to us by historic right and legal right. Avraham Avinu came here and began the process of building the nation that would teach the world what true morality is. After that Dovid Hamelech built his kingdom here. Avraham Avinu bought the Me’aras Hamachpelah with a 100-percent kosher contract.
“The Jews living here are the children of their ancestors,” said Shaked. “One of the big problems here is that the Jewish community of Chevron is aging, and there are no homes for young couples. We cannot allow this to continue, and I am declaring that this situation is at an end. In ten more days there will be no more room for excuses. We must build and build more, to develop Yerushalayim and Yehudah and Shomron. This is our home, and our right.”
In response to enthusiasm among ministers that Trump’s ascension would give Israel a green light to build as it saw fit in Yehudah and Shomron, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman urged caution, telling ministers last month to refrain from making any declarations until Trump was installed in January — and only then to act, in conjunction with the U.S.
“We should not create new surprises, but wait to discuss our issues with the new administration,” Liberman said at the Saban Forum in Washington.
While other government ministers expressed satisfaction at Trump’s election and predicted that Israel would have a freer hand in Yehudah and Shomron, Liberman has been advocating patience, and has urged the government not to act until at least the new Cabinet is in place.
“It’s clear that the key to the future of the settlements is understandings with the U.S.,” said Liberman. “My views are well known, and I have made them known in the Cabinet. It would be best to postpone all legislation until after January 20.”