(TPS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a de facto construction freeze for more than 100 housing units in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel Broadcast Corporation (Kan) reported Wednesday.
The report said the background to the delay related to Netanyahu’s diplomatic initiatives, and especially the visit this week of U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt and Netanyahu’s visit earlier this month to Latin America and the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where the prime minister met with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The report follows on the heels of a June report by the Central Bureau of Statistics showing that settlement construction dropped in the first quarter of the year, with ground broken on just 344 new homes in Judea and Samaria, compared with 477 for that same period last year and 723 such units in the first quarter of 2015.
The report also occurs against a background of growing frustration in the settlement community over the lack of widespread building around Judea and Samaria. Settlement leaders had hoped that the creation of a new administration in Washington would lead to a flurry of building projects in the region after eight years of clashes with former President Barack Obama, but fewer than 2,500 construction permits have been signed since January 20.
In June, settlement leaders who had hoped for an uptick in the pace of building permits following the exit of former U.S. President Barack Obama from the White House said they were disappointed at what they called “a continuation of Obama’s policy.”
At the same time, the Jewish Home party, a member of the coalition, threatened to “make trouble” for Netanyahu over the building issue after the settlement community was disappointed over the slow pace of building permits, with Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel saying at the time that given the limited building plans in Judea and Samaria, “it is very hard to support this government. Every [building] plan requires five approvals from the prime minister and the defense minister… We demand normal, reasonable [planning and approval] procedures.”
The report also follows a request on Monday where a group of right-wing ministers and MKs asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to grant building permits to Israeli families in the Jewish quarter of Hebron.