Naftali Bennett on Thursday met for the first time as Prime Minister with the heads of the Yesha Council for a working session during which they discussed developing the settlement in Judea and Samaria and strengthening local authorities there. Judea and Samaria’s heads of councils were not invited to the meeting which was limited to the senior level only: Yesha Council Chairman (Bennett’s his old job) David Elhayeni, Amana Secretary-General Zeev Hever (Zambish), Yesha Council Director-General Yigal Dilmoni, and Yesha Council Deputy-Chairman Matanya Shapira.
The Prime Minister stressed that he is committed to the settlement enterprise and had made it clear to the Americans that there would be no construction freeze. He also reassured the same Americans there won’t be an annexation or the application of sovereignty on his watch either. Bennett reminded the four leaders of his clear statement regarding this policy in his NY Times interview (On Eve of Meeting Biden, Bennett Rejects Palestinian State, Favors Hard Line on Iran). He said he had also conveyed this message in another meeting with Hever only.
Despite the tension among the men around the table, they agreed to continue working together to advance several issues, including the development of settlements. The settlers’ leaders wanted to continue building in Judea and Samaria as part of the plans that are already completed, to enter directly into the discussion and get them on the agenda—including plans that had been postponed following the cancellation of the Supreme Planning Council (MTA) meeting over to a staff strike, before Bennett’s meeting with President Joe Biden. Bennett promised to look into this, but no specific plans were picked.
Dilmoni told Kippa News after the meeting: “It was a very good meeting and a positive atmosphere, the meeting dealt mainly with the issue of construction plans. It was promised that our issues would be examined and in the coming weeks we will know how it progresses.”
Members of the Palestinian Authority were unhappy with the statements made by Bennett at the meeting.
Here’s something that was not discussed, at least not officially: less than a month ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved the construction of some 1,000 Arab housing units in Area C, which should be reserved to Israeli settlements. A week later, Regavim reported that over the past 12 years, the Palestinian Authority has established one hundred new and illegal schools in Area C, funded and established by international pressure groups.
And, naturally, Khan al Ahmar is still standing.