Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with several Likud cabinet ministers and Knesset members over the weekend, in an attempt to persuade them to support a freeze on construction in the West Bank settlements.
One of Netanyahu’s main messages is that Israel has done its part, and that he is now waiting to see what gestures toward normalizing ties Arab states are willing to make.
settlers are planning to step up their protests against the construction freeze, irrespective of Netanyahu’s announcement of approval for hundreds of new homes in the settlements. Settler leaders said 500 housing units will be built in places such as Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim and Beitar Ilit, where demand is enormous, and in Gush Etzion.
“The demand is for hundreds of housing units in each of these communities, not just a few hundred in total. The construction will probably take place to the east of the fence,” according to Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council.
“A freeze has enormous political implications which are no less than a catastrophe for the settlement enterprise. Freezing construction in Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Beitar, what are called the ‘settlement blocs,’ places them clearly on the negotiating table. Why would the state freeze construction in areas that are not open for negotiation? There is nothing that signals to the Arabs that it is possible to restore them to the 1967 border than such a freeze,” Dayan said.