Netanyahu reiterates vow on new settlement for Amona evacuees ahead of second Greenblatt meeting

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Hours before meeting with a Trump envoy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured residents of the evacuated Amona outpost that he would honour his commitment to build them a new community.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet Thursday, for the second time this week, with Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s adviser on international relations, who has been touring Israel and the Palestinian areas since Monday to gauge attitudes to peacemaking. Netanyahu met with Greenblatt on Monday.

The envoy also met this week in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israeli military officials, Palestinian children in a West Bank refugee camp and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman.

Netanyahu reiterated his promise to build the first official new settlement in 25 years during a meeting of his Cabinet on Thursday morning.

At a February news conference with Netanyahu in Washington, D.C., Trump told the prime minister he would like to see Israel “hold back on settlements for a little bit.” Earlier in the month Trump had said building new settlements or expanding existing ones “may not be helpful” in reaching a peace deal.

“We are in the midst of a process of dialogue with the White House and our intention is to reach an agreed-upon policy regarding settlement construction. Agreed-upon for us, of course, not just for the American side,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Thursday. “Naturally, this will be good for the State of Israel since we have not been in these processes for many years.

“To the residents of Amona, I reiterate: I gave you a promise to build a new community and I will honour that commitment.”

Netanyahu told lawmakers that he will visit China next week at the invitation of President Xi Jinping in order to mark 25 years of relations between the two countries. He noted that he met last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and the previous day in Jerusalem with the president of Bosnia and the foreign minister of Italy.

“Israel is in a period of diplomatic progress,” Netanyahu said. “Not all of the problems have been solved and this is not to say that the countries agree with us on everything. But the great continuity of meetings, also with the leaders of the world’s major powers and the meetings with leaders who come here on a daily basis … show that Israel is becoming a global power in knowledge and technology, and is becoming an important element in the international arena.”

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