Israel’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman told reporters yesterday that this year, 2017, is a record year in terms of Israeli West Bank settlement construction. “We went over all the Jewish settlement data, from the year 2000 through 2017 – Bush, Obama, and now. There has never been such a settlement momentum,” he said, pointing to a total of over 10,000 new homes approved for construction, most of them (some 7,000) still planed, and some 3,400 under construction.
Why did the floodgates open? Well, here is what Lieberman candidly said: “I have a policy of (playing) a game with all cards shown to the Americans. I don’t hide anything. They don’t always agree, but it doesn’t cause a diplomatic crisis.” In other words, Netanyahu’s government tells the Trump administration exactly what it plans to build in West Bank settlements. And the administration, even though it disagrees with settlement construction, says nothing and does nothing to stop or curb construction.
The Trump administration has said very little and done even less about the Netanyahu government’s intensification of West Bank settlement activity. It said nothing when Prime Minister Netanyahu boasted that his government has done more for settlements than any government in the history of Israel. It said nothing when Netanyahu stated, repeatedly, including this Monday, that settlement activity will continue and intensify, and that no settlement will ever be uprooted or removed in the future. It says nothing about intensified Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. It says nothing when Avigdor Lieberman states that the Israeli government is considering legalizing 70 illegal outposts in the West Bank, built in violation of Israeli law, often on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Netanyahu and Lieberman will continue to build, publicly announce that Israel will never withdraw from West Bank settlement, and President Trump will do nothing, yet continue to state that he’s seeking to strike the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians.