JERUSALEM (Nov. 7)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged during a meeting with settlers this week to give his personal attention to their concerns.
Thursday’s meeting came amid complaints from settler leaders that despite Netanyahu’s commitment earlier this year to expand settlements, many projects have been delayed because of technical or bureaucratic reasons.
“The participants in the meeting agreed to continue meeting with the prime minister in a regular way to solve bureaucratic problems,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said. “The prime minister said he would continue to deal with the issue personally.”
Settler leaders said they were encouraged by the meeting and were suspending planned protests.
“We very much hope we will not have to demonstrate against the Netanyahu government,” settlement leader Aharon Domb told Israel Radio after the meeting.
The leaders of the council of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip met later Thursday with Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
Since his election in May, Netanyahu has lifted a freeze on building in the territories that was imposed by the previous Labor government. But settlers complain that little has been done to implement the decision on the ground.
This week, the Housing and National Infrastructure ministries unveiled plans for massive building in the West Bank. The plans are still subject to government approval.
According to figures released this week by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the total number of Jewish settlers of the territories now stands at 140,000.
There are about 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the bureau.