Israel announces ‘goodwill gestures’ to Palestinians, delay in Jewish building, ahead of Biden visit

“The defense minister from Blue and White/New Hope is actually giving new hope towards the establishment of a PA State,” said Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman.


Ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s arrival in Israel Wednesday, Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced a delay in the existing plan to build 2,000 housing units for Jewish residents of eastern Jerusalem.

The plan was reportedly scheduled for approval on Monday and Lapid postponed it ahead of the visit.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, now head of the Yamina party, insisted that the delay would be short-term.

“I will not allow construction plans to be affected only for Jews on my watch. Therefore, I decided to postpone all plans for this one week,” she said.

Meanwhile, the government has implemented a number of goodwill gestures towards the Palestinians.

The Coordinator of Government Operations in Judea and Samaria, Major General Rassan Aliyan, announced Tuesday that after a security assessment, Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved a series of confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

This follows the Defense Minister’s meeting with the PA chairman last week and ahead of President Biden’s visit to the country.

The measures are as follows:

– Approval of the registration of 5,500 stateless persons in the Palestinian Population Registry, in addition to the 12,000 already approved.

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– Approval of six master plans for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria – Confirmation of validity in Hizma, Hermela; Permission to settle in Paciks, Hares, Kisan and Tir.

– Increasing the quota of workers from the Gaza Strip who are allowed to enter labor and trade in Israel by an additional 1,500, to a total quota of 15,500.

– Opening of a new crossing – “Salem” – in northern Judea and Samaria, a mounted crossing for the purpose of the entry of Israeli Arabs into the city of Jenin.

Matan Peleg CEO of Zionist NGO, slammed the measures, which he referred to as “a humiliating display of self-abasement and appeasement” ahead of the Biden visit.

“It is a shame, and a disgrace that an interim prime minister, who was never elected in any organized fashion, treats Israel as some sort of vassal colony,” he said.

“Jerusalem is not yours to trade,” he continued. “Our relationship with the United States has never been based on self-relinquishment. We are urging you to stop this posture.

“Not long ago, Israel was considered a strong country. Why are you managing the country as if we are weak and  have  no national honor?”

“Gantz is approving three construction plans for Arabs in Gush Etzion, during a year in which we barely saw any permits issued for Jewish construction. This is a disparaging farewell gift to Gush Etzion from the Bennett-Lapid government,” Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman stated.

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According to Ne’eman, these approvals give the PA the green light to transfer Arab residents who live in Areas A and B to Area C – under full Israeli control, in order to take over strategic swathes of land.

Ne’eman said: “This transfer de-facto puts Area C under the control of the PA.  These are very serious steps from a national perspective and a Zionist one. The defense minister from Blue and White/New Hope is actually giving new hope towards the establishment of a PA State.”

Biden is scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday. During the three-day visit, he will also visit Ramallah, after which he will move on to Saudi Arabia.

World Israel News contributed to this report.