Netanyahu Isn't Walking Back on New Settlement Promise, His Bureau Insists

State is making all efforts to find an agreed upon solution for Amona evacuees, officials say, day after Netanyahu tells security cabinet that new settlement is complicated by U.S. objections.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a state dinner at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.
Joseph Nair/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention of breaking his promise to erect a new settlement for the evacuees of Amona, senior officials in his office said Monday, after the prime minister told his security cabinet that differences with the Trump administration make such an outcome unlikely.  

According to the officials, the chief of staff at the Prime Minister's Bureau told the representative of the former residents of the illegal outpost, cleared out by court order earlier this month, that the state is making all efforts to find an agreed upon solution, and that Netanyahu wasn't walking back on his promise. 

Also Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that he is sure Netanyahu will "keep his word" and build a new settlement for those expelled from the illegal Amona outpost.

Protest calling on state to establish new settlement for Amona evacuees, outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 19, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Bennett said that Netanyahu "signed an agreement" with the residents of Amona, adding that he's "sure Netanyahu will keep his word." 

On Sunday, Netanyahu told his security cabinet that U.S. President Donald Trump's request that Israel rein in construction in West Bank settlements makes it difficult to push for the establishment of a new settlement for evacuees of the illegal outpost of Amona.

Netanyahu told the ministers they will probably need to come up with another solution for the evacuees, despite the promise to build a new settlement for them, two senior officials who were informed of the contents of the meeting, but asked to remain anonymous due to the fact that this was a closed meeting, said.

Netanyahu told the cabinet that Israel and the Trump administration are at odds over settlement construction, and that a joint team led by Israel's ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and Trump's adviser Jason Greenblatt will seek to reach understandings on the subject. A similar effort was made after Netanyahu's meeting with then-President Barack Obama in 2009. Six months after a joint team was formulated, Netanyhau agreed to a partial freeze of settlement construction in the West Bank for 10 months.