Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have called off a technical move to split part of an existing West Bank settlement into a separate local council, fearing it could anger the United States if it is advanced during White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
The about-face comes despite the step not representing any change on the ground, such as homes being built.
At the Shas party’s request, the coalition deal with Netanyahu’s Likud stipulates that part of the settlement of Kochav Yaakov will be split off and become a new settlement called Tel Zion.
Gallant’s office has previously stated explicitly that he “has no objection to the draft proposal,” according to the report.
But over the last few hours, Gallant has changed that stance at the orders of Netanyahu, who wants the matter off the government’s agenda, the report says, fearing a response by Washington which could view it as forming a new settlement.