“I am committed to the settlements,” Bennett said.
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
In his first official meeting with the heads of the umbrella organization for Jewish settlements since becoming Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett told settler leaders he informed U.S. officials that Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria would not stop.
The Yesha Council, which Bennett once led, represents the municipal councils of Jewish settlements.
During the hour-long Bennett promised the Yesha leaders he wouldn’t freeze construction, but ruled out annexing territory.
“I am committed to the settlements,” Bennett said. “There will be no construction freeze, but there will also be no annexation.”
At the meeting were Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani, Secretary General Amana CEO Zeev Hever, Yesha Council CEO Yigal Dilmoni and Yesha Council Deputy Chairman Matanya Shapira. Elhayani is a also a member of the New Hope party, which is in Bennett’s governing coalition.
Yesha leaders have been particularly concerned that the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria has not met to advance any significant building projects since January.
According to Hebrew media reports, Bennett will stick to an understanding that was reached between former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Donald Trump.
That understanding allowed Israel to develop within already-existing settlements, but not to expand the communities outward or launch new ones.
Predictably, Palestinian officials blasted Bennett’s meeting with the Yesha Council, falsely claiming that all Israeli settlements are “illegal.”