Netanyahu reportedly tells Kerry settler relocation plan is last resort

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call that settlers from the Amona outpost would be relocated to an authorized settlement only as a last resort.

Netanyahu spoke with Kerry on Sunday regarding Israel’s plan to build housing units in Shiloh, deep in the West Bank, for settlers being evacuated from Amona, according to Israeli media reports. The prime minister reportedly said the plan, which calls for the construction of 98 housing units in Shiloh, does not create a new settlement, as the White House and the State Department allege. 

The 40 families of the Amona outpost would be relocated to the Shiloh homes if no other solution can be found, Netanyahu told Kerry, according to reports citing unnamed Israeli officials.

Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the evacuation of the Amona outpost by the end of the calendar year after determining that most of its housing units were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

The Shiloh plan also allows for the construction of 200 additional housing units in a second phase of construction. Israel claims the Amona land and the land for the Shiloh construction are largely state-owned.

The call between Kerry and Netanyahu came days after spokesmen for the State Department and the White House slammed the plan using unusually harsh language.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council will hold a special meeting this week on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

Initiated by the Palestinians, the meeting was formally requested late last week by Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal, Egypt and Angola in a plea titled “The settlements as the obstacle to peace and a two-state solution.”

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