Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call that settlers from the Amona outpost would be relocated to an authorised settlement only as a last resort.
Netanyahu spoke with Kerry Sunday regarding Israel’s plan to build housing units in Shiloh for settlers being evacuated from Amona, according to Israeli media reports. The prime minister reportedly said the plan does not create a new settlement.
The plan calls for the construction of 98 housing units in Shiloh, which is located deep in the West Bank. The 40 families of the Amona outpost would be relocated there if no other solution can be found, Netanyahu told Kerry according to reports citing unnamed Israeli officials.
Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the evacuation of the Amona outpost by the end of the calendar year after determining that most of its housing units were build on privately owned Palestinian land.
The Shiloh plan also allows for the construction of 200 additional housing units in a second phase of construction. Israel claims the Amona land and the land for the Shiloh construction are largely state-owned.
The call between Kerry and Netanyahu comes days after spokesmen for the State Department and White House slammed the plan using exceptionally harsh language.
“It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long-term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians,” deputy State Department spokesman said on Wednesday, linking U.S. aid to Israel with Israel’s settlement policies.
A White House spokesman mentioned Israel and the United States’ special relationship in his condemnation on Wednesday. “The recent announcement from the Israeli government does provoke strong feelings in the administration. We did receive public assurances from this government that contradict this announcement. I guess when we’re talking about how friends treat each other, that’s a source of serious concern as well.”
Meanwhile, The UN Security Council will hold a special meeting this week on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Initiated by the Palestinians, the meeting was formally requested late last week by Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal, Egypt and Angola in a plea titled “The settlements as the obstacle to peace and a two-state solution.”