Israel tells US there are no plans for a new settlement in Homesh

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

View of the unauthorized outpost of Homesh, in the West Bank, on November 17, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
View of the unauthorized outpost of Homesh, in the West Bank, on November 17, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Israeli officials have told their American counterparts that they have no plans to establish a new settlement where the illegal Homesh outpost currently sits, amid US anger over the IDF revoking an order barring Israelis from entering the northern West Bank hilltop, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

But the assertion did not entirely convince the Biden administration, which has pointed out that the outpost sits on private Palestinian land, the Israeli official says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides have sought to explain that the reason for the military order is to commence the process of moving the outpost off of Palestinian land to a different location nearby, says the Walla news site, which broke the story.

The justification is unlikely to sway the Biden administration, which opposes all outpost legalizations, regardless of whether the land in question is considered public or private.

Walla also says that Netanyahu’s office sought to explain to the Biden administration that the military order was necessary due to political pressure the premier  is facing from his far-right coalition partners — another point unlikely to move the US.

The Walla article also says that Israel assured the US that Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s plan to add 500,000 settlers to the West Bank, was not Israeli policy and does not represent the thinking of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Smotrich is also a junior minister in the Defence Ministry with responsibility for parts of West Bank policy.

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