Netanyahu Backs Down From Plans to Build 24,000 New Settler Homes

Annouces Reversal in Face of U.S. Opposition

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published November 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered on Tuesday a reassessment of plans to build nearly 24,000 settler homes, saying he feared an international outcry that would divert attention from Israel’s lobbying against a nuclear deal with Iran.

The right-wing Israeli leader announced the reversal in the face of stiff U.S. opposition to settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Palestinian anger that threatens three-month-old peace talks brokered by Washington.

Before news of Netanyahu’s change of course, President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the Palestinian leadership to hold “an urgent emergency meeting in the coming hours, with all options on the table,” the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Peace Now, which monitors settlement activity on occupied land Palestinians seek for a state, said the Housing Ministry had issued tenders late last month for drawing up construction plans, but that no building work was imminent.

Publication of the tenders had gone unnoticed in the media until Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper and Peace Now reported on the potential projects earlier on Tuesday.

Netanyahu, a strong advocate of settlement building, appeared to have been caught unawares by the proposals, which were disclosed only days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel and the West Bank in a bid to salvage peace negotiations that have shown little sign of progress.

Before leaving Israel, amid Netanyahu saying that “a very bad deal” was in the making between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme, Kerry urged the Jewish state to limit settlement activity.

In a slap down of a key partner in his governing coalition, Netanyahu reprimanded Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the pro-settler Jewish Home party for publishing the tenders “without prior coordination.”

A statement issued by Netanyahu’s office said he ordered Ariel to reassess all of the proposed projects.

Publication of the tenders “created a needless confrontation with the international community just when we are making an effort to persuade (it) to reach a better agreement with Iran,” the statement said.

“World attention must not be diverted from the primary goal - preventing Iran from achieving an agreement that would enable it to continue its nuclear military programme,” Netanyahu’s statement said.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s only atomic power, has been pushing for total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear-enrichment capabilities and cautioning against any premature easing of economic sanctions.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.