Israel’s Civil Administration on Wednesday approved the construction of 3,130 housing units in Yehuda and Shomron, a move that came a day after the Biden administration issued its most severe censure yet of Israeli construction in the “settlements.”
The council is scheduled to convene again on Sunday and approve about 1,300 housing units for Palestinian Arabs in Area C.
US Secretary of State Antony Binken called Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday and the two had a “tense conversation,” Walla reported.
Blinken said that Israel’s construction plans are “unacceptable,” particularly noting the number of units and the fact that many of them are located deep in Yehudah and Shomron rather than in the larger “settlement” blocs.
Blinken said that in the future, he “expects Israel to have greater consideration for the US position on the settlements.”
Gantz mentioned the plans for the 1,300 new homes for Palestinians as well as his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, for which he suffered considerable flak from right-wing coalition members.
Shomron Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan, who led efforts on a recent trip to Washington to coordinate opposition to the Biden administration’s stance on construction in Yehuda and Shomron, slammed the US for its interference in Israel’s governance.
“I call on the prime minister and the foreign minister to put the State Department spokesperson and deputy ambassador in their place, and make it clear to them that the British Mandate and the Turkish government have long since ended,” Dagan said.
“No government in Israel can hide behind the excuse of US pressure because the decision is solely that of the Israeli government. There were pressures, there are pressures, and there will be pressures to come. The ball has never been in Washington, it’s always in Jerusalem. This is not Biden – it’s Bennett, this isn’t the State Department – it’s the Israeli government.”
The left-wing members of the coalition joined Blinken in slamming the approval of new construction in Yehuda and Shomron.
“Someone who makes diplomatic declarations with international implications in an irresponsible manner, without coordination or preparation, and approves 3,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria is, how should we say it, not Rabin,” the Labor party stated on Wednesday.
Gantz’s party, Blue and White, retorted: “Someone who calls for refusal to enlist [in the IDF] shouldn’t preach about diplomatic and security responsibility,” a reference to past comments made by Labor chairman Merav Michaeli.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)