by David Rosenberg
Netanyahu reportedly accepts Biden administration request to 'pause' demolition of illegal Arab homes and Judea and Samaria construction.
|Netanyahu Yonatan Sindel/Flash90|
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to a Biden administration request that Israel dramatically reduce construction in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, and the demolition of illegal Arab buildings, Axios reported Tuesday afternoon.
According to the report, which cited both US and Israeli officials, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the request while meeting with Netanyahu during his Middle East visit last week.
The request is part of a broader plan by the Biden White House to deescalate tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Under the plan pushed by Blinken, Israel will “pause” construction in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, as well as the demolition of illegal Arab buildings in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.
Blinken made the request as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir launched his building code enforcement program, demolishing illegal Arab homes with pending eviction orders in eastern Jerusalem.
On Monday, Netanyahu intervened to delay the demolition of an illegal building in the Qadi Qadum neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem which houses about 100 people.
The home had been slated for demolition Tuesday.
In exchange, Blinken has pressed Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to shelve planned resolutions targeting Israel in the United Nations.
The Netanyahu government reportedly said Israel is willing to significantly reduce settlement construction and demolitions of illegal Arab buildings, but said neither will be halted completely.
Officials from the Palestinian Authority were quoted as saying that Ramallah is prepared to accept the “pause” if Israel agrees to the American request.
After Blinken’s meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas, US Assistant Secretary of State of Near East Affairs, Barbara Leaf, met with Tzachi HaNegbi, Netanyahu’s national security adviser, and Abbas’ adviser Hussein al-Sheikh, to iron out the details of the Secretary of State’s plan.
The Biden White House is still in talks with both Israel and the PA regarding the “pause,” officials cited by the report said.
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