As Biden administration pressures Israel to cancel approval of 4,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria, Lapid says Israel doesn’t need permission from Washington.
By World Israel News Staff
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid emphasized that Israel will make its own choices and will not seek American approval before deciding to advance plans for expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Speaking to reporters at the Knesset on Sunday, Lapid said that “Israel is a sovereign state and does not ask for permission to operate in its territory.”
Although Lapid is on the center-left of the political spectrum and has repeatedly advocated for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict in the past, he stressed that Israel is not beholden to foreign powers when determining policy.
“We always update the Americans” regarding settlement building, he added, while saying an update is not equivalent to a request for permission.
Lapid acknowledged that settlement building has “international consequences, [and] it is my job to deal with them and I will deal with them.”
As Israel gears up for a visit from U.S. President Joe Biden, the hot button issue of settlement building has become a major focus of the American administration.
Like former president Barack Obama, Biden holds a negative stance on settlements, with his spokesman saying that the construction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria is a roadblock to peace.
According to Hebrew-language media reports, Biden’s team asked Israeli government officials not to announce plans for the approval of some 4,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria ahead of the trip.
Attempting to compromise, Israel agreed to slash the number of potential new housing by around 2,000 units, but that move did not satisfy the U.S.
Last Friday, the White House publicly chastised Israel for its housing plans, saying the move “deeply damages the prospects for a two-state solution.”
On Sunday, Channel 12 News reported that coalition officials told the U.S. that if the building plans were stalled, the already-weakened government would likely collapse.