The specter of U.S. pressure to freeze building in Yehudah and Shomron emerged again on Monday, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly told members of the security cabinet that he has put a large new housing list on hold at the request of President Donald Trump.
The decision to postpone a meeting scheduled for this week of the Civil Administration’s planning committee in Yehudah and Shomron, which was slated to announce initial approval for construction of approximately 3,000 homes in the region, drew an outraged response from right-wing leaders, Ynet reported on Monday night.
The head of the Beit El council Shai Alon claims that he was promised that 300 units for his community would go on the housing market this month.
“I am trying to understand the reason for this postponement,” he said. “We are fighting until the end here. The residents of Beit El will get what was promised to them,” he pledged, referring to a five-year-old promise, reaffirmed by Netanyahu over the summer.
Tzvi Gila, one of the evacuees from Migron, railed against the government’s backtracking:
“Again we have realized that the government is good at making declarations about construction, but the truth is it only pretends to build,” he said.
Another local official said: “Government ministers also promised publicly that they would do everything to make it happen now, and here we are, realizing that nothing can be done with all the promises made on paper. The truth is that the prime minister and the ministers are messing us around.”
However, the prime minister reportedly justified the postponement for a week or two, explaining to ministers at the meeting that he could not embarrass President Trump with such an announcement, which will surely antagonize the Palestinians and their supporters, especially in view of the upcoming visit by Trump’s special advisor Jason Greenblatt.
Meanwhile, Israeli center-left parties were denying a boycott of Wednesday night’s celebration in Gush Etzion of 50 years of the Jewish return to Yehudah and Shomron.
Both Zionist Camp and Yesh Atid issued statements on Monday night saying the reports that they refused to attend were false.
Zionist Camp said: “Netanyahu and [Culture and Sports Minister Miri] Regev are again preoccupied with political factions and interests. The Zionist Union faction has not decided to boycott the event. When we reach the government, we will deal in actions and not in speeches, in substance and not in pictures.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also denied anything to do with such a boycott. Addressing “all those who are worrying,” Lapid assured them that Yesh Atid MK Chaim Yellin will attend the celebration.
What apparently sparked the boycott story was an online posting by MK Eitan Cabel, in which he wrote, “No member of the Knesset from the Zionist Camp should participate in the ‘state ceremony marking the anniversary of the liberation of Yehudah and Shomron, the Jordan Valley, and the Golan Heights,’ and the fact that this ceremony was produced by the Information Center with tax monies with no regard to our opinion is a badge of poverty for us.