JERUSALEM (JTA) – A settlement planning committee postponed a meeting to approve building projects until after U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel following a request from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee moved the meeting to June from this week, Haaretz reported, citing an unnamed senior government official. Trump is scheduled to visit Israel May 21-22.
The Israeli government appears to be trying to avoid a repeat of the March 2010 visit by then-U.S. vice-president Joe Biden, when the committee approved 1,600 housing units in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo, which is located outside the 1967 borders. The approvals led to friction with the Obama administration.
During his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in February, Trump asked that Israel “hold back on settlements for a little bit,” adding “I think we’re going to make a deal” between Israelis and the Palestinians. The following month, Israel’s security cabinet established a policy of construction in existing settlements.