Settlement freeze to appease Biden? Netanyahu denies reports

While Netanyahu said there was no formal promise made to stop construction, his close ally in Likud admitted that there are no plans to permit the growth or retroactive legalization of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in the near future.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Hebrew-language media reports that he had promised to freeze the expansion and construction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria during a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

The reports sparked immediate backlash from Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners, including Settlements Minister Orit Strock of the Religious Zionism party.

“A nationalist government doesn’t freeze settlements in the land of Israel. Period,” she tweeted.

In a carefully worded statement released on Wednesday morning, the Prime Minister’s Office denied there had been a formal pledge to freeze settlement building – but a close ally of Netanyahu acknowledged that there are no plans for authorizing construction until at least 2024.

National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi told media that Netanyahu “did not commit” to stopping building in the region, but that he had told Biden no plans for permitting the growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in the near future.

“As part of the transparency practiced between the Israeli government and the American administration on the subject of settlements, the prime minister made it clear to President Biden that in the coming months, there is no expected meeting of the Higher Planning Council.”

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The Higher Planning Council approves construction and building in the area, and without approval from the body, settlement expansion cannot happen.

Hanegbi added that there was “no decision on the regulation of outposts,” meaning that Netanyahu has no plans to retroactively legalize any of the dozens of currently unrecognized Jewish communities in the region.

After months of tension, Netanyahu was finally invited to meet with Biden in person. However, it appears that invitation does not include a visit to the White House, and the meeting could be held during a session of the United Nations in New York.