TEL AVIV – A senior delegation arrived in Washington Sunday to meet with officials from the Trump administration to discuss settlement activity and reportedly receive approval for construction in eastern sections of Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt in order to reach an agreement regarding the settlements.
The meeting comes just days after Greenblatt completed a visit to the region in which he met twice with Netanyahu, as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and King Abdullah II in Amman.
Netanyahu and Greenblatt made “progress on the issue of Israeli settlement construction following up on President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement in Washington last month to work out an approach that reflects both leaders’ views,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office issued after Thursday’s meeting said.
Diplomatic officials said Netanyahu was seeking a green light from the White House to build in eastern Jerusalem and the larger settlement blocs in exchange for halting construction in the smaller settlements beyond the security fence, the daily Israel Hayom reported.
Netanyahu is also vying to receive Washington’s approval for the construction of a new settlement to replace Amona, which was evacuated last month. If it goes ahead, it would be the first settlement to be built in nearly three decades.
Netanyahu on Saturday night left for a three day trip to China and, according to the Times of Israel, the fact that he was not accompanied by Horowitz underscores the importance of settlement negotiations with the U.S.
In a joint press briefing last month, Trump told Netanyahu to “hold back” on settlements.
However, in a departure from traditional U.S. diplomacy in the region, Greenblatt met with settler leaders last week, including Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank.
Following the meeting, Dagan said, “We respect Trump and the new government. We’re pleased there is a supportive government [in Washington].”
“Our requests are to our government and to our ministers. We must make a drastic change and stop this edicts [against settlement activity] that harm the basic rights” of the Jewish communities in the West Bank, Dagan said.