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Israel Postpones Settlement Expansion Plans until after Trump Visit | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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General view of houses of the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank. (Reuters)

Tel Aviv – The Israeli government submitted to permanent US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley a list of demands, including eliminating Security Council resolution 2334 that condemns settlements.

The demands were made at a time when the government decided to postpone a meeting that was aimed at expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank until after a visit by US President Donald Trump to Israel on May 22.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to postpone the Israeli army’s Civil Administration and the High Planning Council meeting until after Trump’s visit.

An Israeli public employee, who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitive diplomatic issue, revealed that the postponement was aimed at avoiding tensions and disputes between Tel Aviv and Washington over settlement building before the US president’s trip.

Such disputes could lead to the complete failure of the visit, explained the official.

Furthermore, making the settlement issue a major topic during Trump’s talks will grant Palestinians a weapon that will bolster their position during his visit to Bethlehem where he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he added.

The Civil Administration and the High Planning Council will likely meet in July, revealed the employee.

Sources described Netanyahu’s orders as “strict” because he does not want a repetition of the crisis that broke out in 2010 when Tel Aviv ordered the construction of 1,600 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem at a time when then Vice President Joe Biden was paying a visit to Israel.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv decided to test the extent of Haley’s support to Israel and her pledge to introduce radical change in the UN’s policy towards it. Among its demands are reducing the number of reports issued each year by UN agencies against Israel. These agencies meet once a month.

It also called for decreasing the work and budget of UN agencies concerned with Palestinian affairs. It also urged Haley to appoint an Israeli official to a high UN position.