US official: ‘There will be no freeze on isolated settlements’

The senior official said, “The vision of peace speaks for itself and we recommend to whoever isn’t updated to read it.”

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The U.S. will not demand a building freeze on isolated settlements in Judea and Samaria as part of the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan, an unnamed senior U.S. official tells Israel Hayom on Thursday.

The official said that the 15 settlement enclaves will not be asked to freeze their outward expansion, as has been generally reported. Though he did admit they may be subject to partial limitations.

“There’s no freeze on enclaves. After the mapping committee approves the parameters of the enclaves, we’ll permit building in them over the next four years,” he told the paper.

It has been reported that the Trump plan calls for a four-year freeze on new settlement construction and doubling territory under Palestinian control.

However, the word “freeze” appears nowhere in the 181-page plan unveiled in January. The plan says Israel won’t have to “uproot any settlements.”

“Israeli enclaves located inside contiguous Palestinian territory will become part of the State of Israel and be connected to it through an effective transportation system,” the plan says.

Referring to the plan’s text, the senior official said, “The vision of peace speaks for itself and we recommend to whoever isn’t updated to read it.”

“The only [Israeli] building freeze that the plan demands is in the area designated to be passed to the Palestinians in the future, if they will fulfill the conditions of the plan,” he said.

Fear of a freeze, however, is one of the two main drivers behind settlement leaders’ opposition. The other reason is that it provides for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his outreach efforts to settlement leaders, has said he has not committed himself to creating a state, but only to negotiating with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan.

He has also pointed out that the conditions that are expected of the Palestinian side are high from their point-of-view, such as giving up on the “right of return,” a term referring to the flooding of Israel with millions of Palestinian “refugees,” effectively ending Israel’s Jewish character.

However, settlement leaders have continued to oppose the plan. One of its harshest critics to emerge is Yesha Council Chairman and Jordan Valley Council head David Elhayani. His recent comments have exasperated the Netanyahu administration.

On Thursday, he told Kan Radio that the plan will never happen because the Americans say they want it to receive a “broad national consensus.”

The day before, Elhayani said that “the Trump peace plan proves he’s no friend of Israel.”

The Netanyahu administration, which views President Donald Trump as an ally, condemned Elhayani’s comments as irresponsible.