Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Shin Bet director Ronen Bar attended a summit hosted by Jordan aimed at reducing the possibility of a further escalation in terror during the upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which usually triggers increased terror attacks.
Representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the United States were also present at the political-security meeting, held in Jordan’s Red Sea resort town of Aqaba.
During the summit, Israel and Palestinian Authority officials reportedly discussed the resumption of security coordination and suspension of Israeli announcements about settlements.
A joint statement from the participants following the meeting said an agreement was reached on “an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for four months and to stop authorization of any outposts for six months.”
Participants also agreed to establish a joint security committee to mull renewal of security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and PA willingness and ability to take responsibility for the fight against terrorism in Areas A and B in Judea and Samaria, according to an Israeli official who spoke to The Jerusalem Post after the meeting.
A second joint committee is to be established to promote confidence-building economic measures to benefit Palestinian Authority citizens as well.
‘Construction and Regulation in Judea and Samaria to Continue’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered the claims, writing Sunday night, “Contrary to the tweets, construction and regulation in Judea and Samaria will continue according to the original planning and construction schedule, without any changes. There is and will not be any freeze.”
בניגוד לציוצים, הבנייה וההסדרה ביהודה ושומרון יימשכו בהתאם ללו״ז התכנון והבנייה המקורי, ללא שום שינוי. אין ולא תהיה שום הקפאה.
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) February 26, 2023
Hanegbi also subsequently said in a statement that Israel did not agree to any settlement freeze, or changes in policy.
“Contrary to reports and tweets about the meeting in Jordan, there is no change of policy in Israel,” he said. “In the coming months the State of Israel will legalize nine outposts and approve 9,500 housing units in Judea and Samaria.”
The new settlements and housing units were approved by the Israeli government in response to terror attacks that had already taken the lives of 11 victims prior to Sunday’s murders.
“There is no building freeze or change in the status quo on the Temple Mount and there is no restriction in IDF activity,” Hanegbi said.
Mixed Messages After Jordan Summit
Nevertheless, a senior Israeli official said after the summit that “no additional decisions regarding the settlements are expected in the coming months.”
Finance Minister and Religious Zionism chairperson Bezalel Smotrich dismissed the reports, saying in a tweet that he had “no idea what they talked about or didn’t talk about in Jordan.”
Nevertheless, he said, “one thing I do know: there will not be a freeze in the construction and development of settlements, not even for one day (this on my authority).
“The IDF will continue to counter terrorism in all areas of Judea and Samaria without any limitation (we will confirm this with the cabinet.) It’s very simple,” he added.
Another summit is set to be held prior to the start of Ramadan, in Egypt.