The heads of Israel’s right-wing coalition discovered last week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had secretly promised the US administration to restrict construction of additional housing units in West Bank settlements. The de facto situation in the settlements reflects this pledge. Settlers, who anxiously awaited the replacement of their nemesis, former President Barack Obama, by the new Messiah, Donald Trump, have had a rude awakening over the past nine months. Trump assumed office, but the anticipated construction boom in the West Bank has not materialized. The boom may even have become a bust.
In the wake of Netanyahu’s reported pledge, one of the Likud’s leading hawks, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin, launched a rare on-the-record broadside against the Trump administration. “This administration feels comfortable changing the obligations set out by the Obama administration in the climate agreement and with many other things, but. … they are clutching at the same idea that building beyond the Green Line is a negative Israeli step,” Elkin said in an interview.