Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Prime Minister Netanyahu in Har Homa, in eastern Jerusalem, March 16, 2015.

A little after midnight Israel time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “I promised the Amona settlers and I kept my promise: a new settlement in Judea and Samaria!”

Netanyahu continued (in an attached text): “The Security Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu tonight unanimously approved the establishment of a new settlement for the people off Amona, in the Shiloh valley area. Currently a phone poll is taking place among the rest of the ministers to approve the decision.”

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The statement continued: “Prime Minister Netanyahu informed the cabinet regarding the approval for sale of 2,000 housing units out of the 5,700 Israel had announced two months ago. These 2,000 units had not been approved for sale before due to technical problems.

“The cabinet was further informed that the state declared some 220 acres as state-owned land in the vicinity of Adey Ad, Givat ha’Roeh and Eli, according to needs stemming from legal issues.”

Ha’aretz on Friday morning quoted a senior government official who said Netanyahu informed the ministers that Israel will significantly restrain new construction, and take serious steps to limit construction in existing settlements beyond the current building zones. The official cited the reason as consideration for President Trump’s position and allowing for progress in the peace process.

Netanyahu stressed strict enforcement of the prohibition on “illegal outposts” in Judea and Samaria, meaning that we will be treated once again to the familiar sight of Police and Border Guard units arriving en masse to dismantle these outposts and arrest the residents who refuse to be evacuated.

A White House official told AP that the president was understanding of Netanyahu’s decision to go ahead with rebuilding Amona, since he had given his promise to the evicted residents before his meeting with Trump. The same official said that the president would take less kindly to new construction in Judea and Samaria: “As the administration has made clear: While the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace,” the official said, adding that “the Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the president’s concerns into consideration. The United States welcomes this.”

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