Israel’s defense minister said his country should reach an agreement with the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump to freeze building in isolated West Bank settlements in exchange for continued building in settlement blocs.
Avigdor Lieberman made the remarks on Wednesday at a briefing with reporters, the first since his Yisrael Beiteinu party joined the ruling government coalition in May.
Lieberman also said that Trump’s advisers have sent official messages to the Israeli government asking that it stop commenting on Israeli expectations for the administration’s future policies regarding Israel.
“I hope that we have enough sense to stop the jubilation and public enthusiasm. It is undoubtedly damaging,” Lieberman said.
“In the messages we received from the Trump team, they asked us to act modestly. We will wait and we won’t establish facts on the ground.”
Lieberman said the government should concentrate on having the new Trump administration ratify the Bush-Sharon formula, under which then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon committed Israel to the two-state solution and to refrain from building outside of major settlement blocs.
He called concentrating settlement construction on the areas where 80 percent of the settlers live a “good thing,” though Lieberman acknowledged that such a policy would not help him politically.
Speaking about a controversial bill to legalisse some West Bank outposts, notably Amona, Lieberman said: “I’m not certain that it’s the best solution,” and added he believes it will be impossible to avoid evacuating the outpost as per a Supreme Court ruling.