Netanyahu meets pressure in push to normalize settlements

News site N12 reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu’s request “aroused great anger in the Foreign Ministry and among legal officials.”

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing pressure from settlement leaders, some of whom began a hunger strike in front of his Jerusalem office earlier this month, pushed for the normalization of a handful of settlements in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday.

In the end, the matter did not come before the government after the prime minister encountered pushback within his coalition and from others.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party rejected the move, saying “No politically irresponsible proposal will come up at the cabinet meeting in such a sensitive period.”

News site N12 reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu’s request “aroused great anger in the Foreign Ministry and among legal officials” as it comes just as a new U.S. administration is taking over.

“It is unbelievable that they are trying to pass such a significant decision, with far-reaching consequences that could complicate Israel at the international level and with the new Biden administration, without holding an orderly discussion,” sources told N12.

And despite Netanyahu’s pressure, Israel’s National Security Council refused to sign on to the move, saying that the Cabinet Secretariat is the one required to do so, N12 reports.

Under Netanyahu’s plan, five or six settlements would have their status “normalized.” Doing so would allow those settlements to connect to Israel’s water and electricity grid.

However, the handful of settlements Netanyahu has agree to help is small beer in the eyes of settlement leaders, who are calling for a change in status to 46 settlements, housing some 25,000 Jews.

The hunger strike has brought media attention to their situation, especially after two of the hunger strikers collapsed and had to be rushed to hospital.

One of them, Itai Zar, said “The electricity is terrible. The water is terrible. We are tired. Enough! What has that got to do with politics?”

“I just want to live like a human being, I went to synagogue on Saturday night because there was no water… There are 25,000 people here… It could be arranged in a second to give us electricity and water,” he said.

The settlement leaders laid the fault at the feet of the prime minister, whom they normally support.

On Tuesday, one of the most prominent, Yesha Council chairman David Elhayani, announced he was not voting for Netanyahu in the March 23 election and would throw his support behind former Likud MK Gideon Saar, who has formed a new party.