Israel Sunday agreed to halt new settlement construction projects in the West Bank, according to a joint statement issued after a summit in Aqaba. The agreement is significant, as Israel’s recent retroactive approval of further construction and expansion in the West Bank has been widely criticised. However, senior Israeli government officials interpreted the agreement differently.
The official statement provides:
The Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority confirmed their joint readiness and commitment to immediately work to end unilateral measures for a period of 3-6 months. This includes an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for 4 months and to stop authorization of any outposts for 6 months.
Far-right members of the Israeli coalition government quickly rejected the outcome of the summit. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich claimed he had no knowledge of the context of the summit discussions. He asserted, “there will not be a freeze on construction and development in the settlement, not even for one day.” National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir echoed this sentiment, stating “what was in Jordan (if it was), will stay in Jordan.”
Shortly after the statements, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu denied there would be any construction freeze over the Green Line. He concluded, “contrary to the tweets, construction and regulation in Judea and Samaria will continue according to the original planning and construction schedule, without any changes. There is and will not be any freeze.”