“And Avner sent messengers to David straightway, saying: ‘Whose is the land?’ saying also: ‘Make thy league with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, to bring over all Israel unto thee.’” II Samuel 3:12 (The Israel Bible™)
The Trump administration has reportedly requested that Israel freeze all construction in isolated Judea and Samaria settlements, as well as put holds on building inside major settlement blocs, according to several Hebrew media reports that emerged on Wednesday.
The surprisingly restrictive terms were laid out by Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special negotiator, in his Jerusalem meetings with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu last week, the reports said. Netanyahu refused the demands.
The proposal included giving Israel latitude to build new homes in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, but allowed for only a limited number of housing units to be added inside the major settlement blocs, such as Gush Etzion or Maale Adumim, each year, and called for a total halt to any construction in isolated communities inside Judea and Samaria.
According to Channel 2, Netanyahu was “surprised” by the severity of the demands.
After Netanyahu and Greenblatt failed to resolve the issue during the latter’s Israel visit, which also included meetings with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu sent officials to Washington in order to continue negotiations.
On Wednesday, during a state visit to China, Netanyahu said that “significant process” had been made in the discussions.
“The talks have not been completed, but there is progress,” he told reporters.
Trump’s election initially led to high expectations by Israeli right-wingers that underneath the vocally pro-Israel Trump administration, settlements would expand significantly and Jerusalem would be unequivocally recognized as the capital of Israel. However, mixed signals from the White House since Trump’s inauguration have led to confusion and caution in the Jewish state.
While ties between the two nations are stronger than ever, the details have yet to be ironed out.