PM Netanyahu: ‘More Important Things’ Now Than Resettling Amona Evictees

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel will not be able to build a new settlement for Amona evictees, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told cabinet members Sunday, because of the opposition of President Donald Trump. PM Netanyahu made the remarks at the cabinet meeting Sunday, when he reported the results of his meeting.

Haaretz quoted two senior officials who were privy to the update, but requested anonymity, as saying that based on his discussions with President Trump, another solution would have to be found for Amona residents. Netanyahu’s main focus at the meeting was to promote Israel’s case on further American sanctions against Iran, and Netanyahu does not wish to “complicate” matters by requesting permission to build a new settlement.

PM Netanyahu was pushed on the matter by Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both of whom were instrumental in forging the agreement that led to the evacuation of Amona nearly a month ago. PM Netanyahu told the ministers that while President Trump is willing to work with Israel “extensively” on any number of security issues, there were certain areas that were off limits. “With all due respect to Amona residents, we must coordinate now with the Trump administration on Iran. That is the main issue right now, and I do not care how this comes out when it is leaked to social media,” Netanyahu reportedly said.

On Sunday, former residents of Amona began a major protest effort outside government offices in Yerushalayim, including setting up a tent city outside the prime minister’s office, after reports last week said that Netanyahu was “reconsidering” his promise to Amona residents to build them a new settlement. According to reports, Netanyahu told President Trump in their meeting Wednesday that he planned to hold off on the decision to build the settlement promised when they were evicted from their homes by court order several weeks ago.

Residents and community leaders reacted with anger. In a statement, the Amona residents committee said that “we have a signed deal, with the signatures of the prime minister, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the education minister, with a contract that says that a new settlement will be in place by March 31. This agreement was authored by the education minister and the prime minister. Violating this would be a terrible blow not just to us, but to all their voters.”

“Commitments need to be fulfilled and promises need to be kept,” Bennett said. “The prime minister signed an agreement to establish a new settlement for Amona evictees, and I am sure he will keep his word.” Shaked added that “the government signed a deal and we have no intention of violating it. A new settlement will be established for Amona residents.”

In a statement, Amona residents said that “the establishment of a new settlement for Amona evictees is the bare minimum that the government must undertake in order to resolve our personal and communal problems. The establishment of this settlement will be the eternal response to our enemies, who wish to see more and more settlements destroyed, that we are in Yehudah and Shomron, and in the rest of Israel, forever. All the government ministers understand this, as does the prime minister.”