Netanyahu angers Right, ignores outposts, nods to Palestinian building

Netanyahu angers Right, ignores outposts, nods to Palestinian building

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has angered Right-wingers by not placing the issue of West Bank settler outposts on Sunday’s government agenda, while permitting the Civil Administration to advance plans for Palestinian building.

“Tomorrow the Civil Administration plans to authorize illegal Palestinian building in Area C [of the West Bank],” the Yesha Council said on Saturday night.

When it comes, however, “to regulating Israeli settlement [the outposts], the prime minister and defense minister have engaged in petty political debates as a result of which these communities have not been connected to electricity, water, the internet and systems of defense and security,” the Yesha Council said.

Separately on Sunday, the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria is set to meet to advance plans for some 800 settler homes.

The meeting comes three days before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden, who is opposed to settlement construction.

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The council is also slated to debate the advancement of plans for Palestinian building in Area C. The Obama administration, under whom Biden was the vice president, had viewed positively Israeli plans for Palestinian development in Area C, which is under Israeli military and civilian control.

The move has, however, angered the Right, which holds that Palestinian building in Area C helps cements Palestinian presence there and makes it more difficult for Israel to argue that the area should be within its permanent sovereign borders.

Community Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi wrote to Gantz on Friday asking him to hold a Security Cabinet meeting on the issue of Palestinian building before the Higher Planning Council debates the matter.

It’s been the practice to do so in the past, he said.

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“A review of some of the plans [to be debated Sunday] shows that the Security Cabinet may have rejected some of them in the past,” he said.

Of particular concern, Hanegbi said, is a plan to expand the Palestinian villages of al-Wallaja and Hizma, both near Jerusalem.

For over two weeks, settlers have camped in front of Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office demanding that the government declare its intention to legalize some 46 outposts.

They have been joined at times by politicians from the Likud, Yamina, New Hope and Shas.

But as of Saturday night, the issue was not on the government’s agenda. It is scheduled to convene on Sunday for the first time in almost a month.

Alternative Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been blamed for keeping the outpost issue off the government’s agenda and for advancing Palestinian building at the Civil Administration.

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The Right and settlers have also blamed Netanyahu, whom they believed should have been able to override Gantz on both issues.

Settlers rallied in front of Netanyahu’s home on Thursday night and again on Saturday night and they also plan to hold a protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office when the government meets on Sunday.

Over the last two weeks, a small number of settlers began a hunger strike, including Gilad Farm resident Itai Zar. Last week, he fainted and was taken to the hospital, where it was discovered that he had COVID-19. Zar and most of his fellow hunger-strikers were sent into isolation and had to end their protest.

Two settlers, including Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who began their hunger strike late last week are the only ones still fasting.

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