Archive for November 19, 2019

Netanyahu: ‘whoever hurts us, we will hurt them’ – 18.11.19 TV7 Israel News 

November 19, 2019

 

 

Iran Blames U.S. “Economic Terrorism” for Fuel Prices & Protests | Subverse News

November 19, 2019

 

 

3 Iranian security forces said killed by protesters in Iran

November 19, 2019

Source: 3 Iranian security forces said killed by protesters | The Times of Israel

Assailants wielding knives and machetes ambush a Revolutionary Guard and two members of the Basij militia west of Tehran

Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

Three members of the Iranian security forces have been stabbed to death by “rioters” near Tehran, the ISNA and Fars news agencies reported late Monday.

The assailants wielding knives and machetes ambushed the three — a Revolutionary Guard and two members of the Basij militia — west of the capital, the news agencies reported.

The deaths take to at least five the number of people confirmed to have been killed in violent demonstrations that erupted across Iran on Friday against a surprise gas price hike.

One of the three was identified as Morteza Ebrahimi, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to Fars.

The other two were Majid Sheikhi, 22, and Mostafa Rezaie, 33. Both served in the Basij militia, a volunteer force loyal to the establishment.

State television said a ceremony would be held for Ebrahimi and Rezaie in Tehran on Tuesday afternoon.

 

4 rockets fired at Israel from Syria, shot down by Iron Dome, IDF says

November 19, 2019

Source: 4 rockets fired at Israel from Syria, shot down by Iron Dome, IDF says | The Times of Israel

Dubious reports emerge shortly thereafter about explosions in Damascus; incident follows Israeli assessments that Iran intends to take more aggressive actions in the region

Israeli air defense system Iron Dome takes out rockets fired from Gaza near Sderot, Israel, May 4, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Illustrative: Israeli air defense system Iron Dome takes out rockets fired from Gaza near Sderot, Israel, May 4, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Four projectiles were fired at northern Israel from Syria in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said. All four were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Israeli military believes the rockets were fired by Iran or one of its proxies.

“Four launches were seen from Syrian territory toward Israeli territory that were shot down by soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system,” the military said in a statement.

The army said it was unlikely that any projectiles had landed inside Israel’s borders. The apparent attack triggered sirens in the northern Golan Heights and Galilee region at 4:52 a.m., sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.

The use of the Iron Dome, as opposed to Israel’s other longer-range defense systems, indicated that the incoming projectiles were short-range rockets. This could not be immediately confirmed.

Minutes after Syrian official news agency SANA reported that explosions were heard near the Damascus airport. The state media outlet did not elaborate on what caused the blasts.

Some Syrian outlets speculated that this was an Israeli airstrike, while others said this may have been the sound of the rockets being launched at Israel.

Israel refuses to comment on the specifics of its operations against Iran in Syria.

The apparent early morning rocket attack came after the Israeli military warned that it believed Iran intended to take more aggressive actions in the region.

After the incident, the Golan Regional Council said no special safety precautions would be put in place, following consultations with the military. The authorities urged residents to keep to their routines.

On November 12, Akram al-Ajouri, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was targeted in Damascus in an attack that was blamed by some on Israel. Islamic Jihad said Ajouri survived the attack, but his son was killed.

Two rockets targeted the home of al-Ajouri, “killing his son Muadh and another person,” SANA said. Ajouri’s bodyguard was the other man killed, Hebrew media reported. Six others were said injured.

That incident came less than an hour after Israel announced it had killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a top commander of the Iran-aligned Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Subsequently, the IDF and the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror group engaged in 48 hours of heavy fighting that saw some 450 rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel, which responded with many retaliatory strikes in Gaza

The IDF declined to comment on the Damascus attack.

The northern border has been relatively quiet since the Hezbollah terror group fired several anti-tank guided missiles at an army base and a military jeep just inside northern Israel’s border with Lebanon in September, causing no injuries.

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

BREAKING: 4 launches were identified from Syria toward northern Israel.

We can confirm that all 4 were intercepted in the sky by Israeli air defense systems.

On Monday the army launched a two-day surprise military exercise in northern Israel, the IDF said.

Large numbers of aircraft, vehicles and IDF troops were taking part in the drill, which is designed to test the preparedness of the Northern Command, a military spokesperson said.

Iran-backed Hezbollah is seen by the IDF as one of its most formidable enemies, with an arsenal of rockets and missiles larger than that of most countries. Israel and Hezbollah last fought a war in 2006, though recent years have seen numerous cross-border exchanges of fire and Israel has targeted dozens of Hezbollah shipments in airstrikes in Lebanon and Syria.

 

Leading Democratic presidential candidates denounce US settlement decision

November 19, 2019

Source: Leading Democratic presidential candidates denounce US settlement decision | The Times of Israel

Frontrunners Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg speak out against Trump administration’s announcement that settlements not ‘inconsistent with international law’

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden gives a speech on his foreign policy plan on July 11, 2019 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

US Democratic presidential candidates, including frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, on Monday condemned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the Trump administration was softening its position on Israeli settlements.

Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” breaking with decades of US policy.

Former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign called the move “an obstacle to peace.”

“This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region. It’s not about peace or security. It is not about being pro-Israel. It is about undercutting Israel’s future in service of Trump’s personal politics,” Biden’s campaign told Jewish Insider.

Vermont Senator Sanders denounced the move, saying that “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at the J Street National Conference, with the ‘Pod Save the World’ hosts Tommy Vietor, left, and Ben Rhodes, October 28, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator who is vying with Sanders for the more progressive voters in the party, similarly condemned the announcement.

“Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region. Not only do these settlements violate international law — they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two-state solution,” Warren said.

Pete Buttigieg, the centrist mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and another leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, said the decision undermined peace efforts.

“The Trump administration’s statement on West Bank settlements is not only a significant step backward in our efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is the latest in a pattern of destructive decisions that harm our national interests,” Buttigieg said.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind. mayor, address the National Action Network (NAN) convention, Thursday April 4, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota senator who is not among the leading candidates, said that the decision “goes against long-standing US policy. Once again Donald Trump is playing politics and taking us further away from a path to a two-state solution.”

Liberal Democratic lawmakers Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both frequent critics of Israel, also castigated the White House following the announcement.

“Israel’s settlements in the West Bank violate international law. No matter what this corrupt and immoral Trump regime (yeah he is a lawless king-like dictator) say, it doesn’t change that fact. #FreePalestine & #ImpeachmentTrumpNow,” Tlaib, a House Representative from Michigan, wrote on Twitter.

Minnesota Congresswoman Omar said that “Israeli settlements violate [international] law, decades of US foreign policy, and the human rights of Palestinians. All who believe in the possibility of peace must speak up in this moment.”

In this July 15, 2019, file photo, US Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, right, speaks as US Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, listens during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Some Republican lawmakers came out in favor of the move.

“This announcement is a repudiation of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-informed efforts to target Israeli presence in the West Bank. While I strongly support a two-state solution, I believe the Trump Administration’s announcement today will ultimately advance the cause of peace over time,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said the decision helped reverse the “disgraceful legacy” of the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel.

“For too long, the US has been slow to acknowledge the basic reality that our Israeli allies have sovereignty over their territories, and today the administration took steps to right that wrong,” Cruz said.

Pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC said that it “does not take a position on settlements. We believe settlements should be an issue for direct negotiations between the parties, not something determined by international bodies. The Palestinians must stop their boycott of US & Israeli officials and return to direct talks.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft wrote on Twitter following the announcement: “While #Israel is surrounded by neighbors who seek its destruction, the international community has the audacity to make this nation the subject of its harshest criticism. I will not stand for this, today or any day.”

“To be clear, the United States remains fully committed to the cause of peace. Today’s announcement does not alter this fact. And just as we are committed to peace, we are committed to #Israel,” Craft wrote.

Human Rights Watch said in response to the announcement that “Israeli settlements remain war crimes.”

“This changes nothing. President Trump can’t wipe away decades of established international law that settlements are a war crime. The US has long benefited from adherence to the laws of war and should not abandon that, especially at the expense of Palestinian civilians,” said Andrea Prasow, the nonprofit’s acting Washington director.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America’s Executive Director Halie Soifer said Pompeo’s “reversal of decades of US policy is a green light for Israeli annexation of the West Bank, which will permanently impede prospects for a two state solution.” She said Trump “doesn’t understand what it means to be pro-Israel and Jewish voters reject his recklessness.”

The liberal Mideast policy organization J Street described the move as a “destructive gift” to the Israeli right, and accused Washington of “shattering America’s limited remaining credibility in the region and around the world.”

“This announcement is just the latest in a long series of actions by the Trump administration designed to aid the Israeli settlement movement, prevent a two-state solution and provide political gifts to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” J Street head Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.

“The timing of this announcement can only be read as last-ditch attempt to boost the prime minister’s personal prospects,” Ben-Ami added, referring to Netanyahu’s struggle to remain in office following inconclusive elections, as well as the three corruption cases facing the prime minister.

View of the settlement of Elazar, in the West Bank, on February 5, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer praised the shift in US policy.

“In rejecting the foundational lie that the Jewish people are foreign colonialists in our own homeland, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel Friedman have made an essential contribution to the advance of peace,” Dermer tweeted.

Pompeo made the statement in a Monday press conference at the State Department, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood.

The secretary of state repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” The move angered Palestinians and immediately put the US at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.

The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for long-standing US opposition to expanding the settlements, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, Pompeo said.

Volume 90%

US moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the transfer of the US embassy to that city, and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington. Those moves have been widely, though not universally, welcomed in Israel.

Even though the latest decision is largely symbolic, it could give a boost to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections.

In addition, it could spell further trouble for the administration’s oft-promised peace plan, which is unlikely to gather much international support by endorsing a position contrary to the global consensus.

Trump himself has not yet made a statement on the changed policy.

 

Netanyahu and Gantz both fete US for changing tack on settlements

November 19, 2019

Source: Netanyahu and Gantz both fete US for changing tack on settlements | The Times of Israel

( There is nothing more Trump can do for Israel diplomatically… – JW )

Right-wing and centrist lawmakers celebrate decision, but left says announcement will make two-state solution more difficult

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Illustrative: US President Donald Trump holds up a signed proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief challenger Benny Gantz both lauded the US decision to repudiate its official legal opinion that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal Monday night.

Netanyahu said the decision, announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to back off the US stance that settlements are illegal under international law, was “righting a historical wrong.”

“This policy reflects a historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said in a statement, referring referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.

Netanyahu lauded Pompeo’s pronouncement that the US would defer to Israel’s courts to determine the legality of settlements.

“Israel’s legal system, which has proven itself fully capable of addressing legal questions related to the settlements, is the appropriate place for these matters to be adjudicated — not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts,” he said.

“Israel remains ready and willing to conduct peace negotiations with the Palestinians regarding all final status issues in an effort to achieve a durable peace, but will continue to reject all arguments regarding the illegality of the settlements,” he said.

The entrance to the settlement of Yitzhar, in the West Bank on October 20, 2019. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

A senior Israeli official told reporters on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu had been pushing for the policy change “for a number of months.”

The issue was advanced in cooperation with the National Security Council and the department for international law at the attorney general’s office, the official said.

Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz similarly lauded the US decision announced by Pompeo.

“The fate of the settlements and the residents of Judea and Samaria should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote a peace that will serve both sides while reflecting the reality on the ground,” Gantz wrote in a tweet.

Moshe Ya’alon, who represents the most right-wing flank of Blue and White, also praised the decision.

משה ‘בּוֹגִי’ יעלון

@bogie_yaalon

I salute the United States administration’s historic stance and acknowledgment regarding the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and their consistency with international law. https://twitter.com/bogie_yaalon/status/1196513961694433280 

משה ‘בּוֹגִי’ יעלון

@bogie_yaalon

אני מברך על הצהרת הממשל האמריקני וההבהרה ההיסטורית, כי ההתיישבות ביו״ש אינה מהווה הפרה של החוק הבינלאומי. טוב שמה שהיה ברור לנו מאז ומתמיד, מקבל גושפנקא שכזו. אין עם כובש בארצו!

משה ‘בּוֹגִי’ יעלון

@bogie_yaalon

It is important to set the record straight and receive an endorsement of what we have known all along… An aboriginal people cannot be considered an illegal settler in its’ ancestral homeland.

Both the right-wing Netanyahu and centrist Gantz say they support continued settlement building, and both have expressed support for annexation of the Jordan Valley, a corridor of land where the West Bank meets Jordan.

Netanyahu, who is stuck in a political deadlock with Gantz as moribund coalition talks have dragged on, used Pompeo’s announcement to campaign against his rival.

A screenshot of Gantz’s post was shared by Netanyahu’s spokesman who highlighted the words “both sides,” in an apparent mockery of the Blue and White chairman’s concern for Palestinians as well as Israelis.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks to reporters near the West Bank settlement on Migdal Oz, after yeshiva student Dvir Yehuda was killed in a terror attack, on August 8, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Netanyahu also used the opportunity to once again attack Blue and White for allegedly working toward forming a minority government that would rely on outside support from the majority-Arab Joint List. The Likud chairman renewed his claim that the Joint List lawmakers are supporters of terror in a video statement responding to the Pompeo announcement.

Several senior right-wing lawmakers, including New Right No. 2 Ayelet Shaked, said that the policy shift should be used as a springboard off of which Israel should move to annex the West Bank.

“Now is the time to apply our sovereignty to these communities,” Shaked said in a statement. “The Jewish People have the legal & moral right to live in their ancient homeland.”

“There is no doubt around the rights of the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz (Likud) said in a statement.

Justice Minister Amir Ohana (also Likud) said the move “recognizes the Israeli nation’s connection to the Land of Israel and the deep connection between the two leaders, Netanyahu and Trump.”

Amir Peretz, head of the center-left Labor-Gesher faction, said the US move would make it harder for Israel to reach a two-state deal with the Palestinians.

“Generations of Israelis have been paying the price of the conflict, which is a strategic problem for Israel, not America. The assertion that the settlements are legal will give legitimacy for millions of Palestinians to demand full citizenship and equal rights. It’s either two states or one that is non-Zionist and non-Jewish. There is no third option,” he said.

Democratic Camp members Ehud Barak and Yair Golan (R) visit the West Bank settlement of Ariel on July 16, 2019. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Elsewhere on the left side of the political spectrum, responses were also less positive.

Democratic Camp chairman Nitzan Horowitz called the US announcement “wrong and harmful” asserting that settlements are a “central obstacle to peace.”

“They are illegal according to any definition of international law and harm Israeli interests as well as the Palestinians, of course. The United States should have called for a cessation of construction in the settlements and an immediate renewal of the peace process. There is no other solution to the conflict except for the two-state solution,” Horowitz said in a statement.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties in the Knesset, wrote on Twitter that the US change in policy toward West Bank settlements will not “change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land upon which an independent Palestinian state will be founded alongside Israel.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, November 18, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Pompeo in a press conference declared that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood.

The secretary of state repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” The move angered Palestinians and immediately put the US at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.

The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for long-standing US opposition to expanding the settlements, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, Pompeo said.

US moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the movement of the US embassy to that city, and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.

Israeli border police officers guard near the “Kumi Ori” outpost in the settlement of Yitzhar in the West Bank, on October 24, 2019. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, condemned Pompeo’s announcement and said settlements are illegal under international law. “The US administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process,” he said.

Even though the decision is largely symbolic, it could give a boost to Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections.

In addition, it could spell further trouble for the administration’s oft-promised peace plan, which is unlikely to gather much international support by endorsing a position contrary to the global consensus.

Yesha settlement umbrella council foreign envoy and Efrat Local Council chairman Oded Revivi told The Times of Israel that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was personally involved in initiating the policy change over the past several weeks and months. Friedman is known for his close ties to the settlement movement and served as the chairman of the American Friends of Beit El organization before becoming ambassador.

 

By saying settlements not illegal, Trump seen as throwing Netanyahu a lifeline

November 19, 2019

Source: By saying settlements not illegal, Trump seen as throwing Netanyahu a lifeline | The Times of Israel

Former Mideast peace negotiator says move meant to ‘dismantle the core elements’ of the attempt to achieve a two-state solution

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

WASHINGTON — The US declaration Monday that the settlements do not violate international law — reversing decades of American foreign policy — was, according to former Mideast peace negotiators, the logical next step of the Trump administration’s efforts to reframe the basis on which Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations take place.

Previous policy decisions have had a similar effect: from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv to withholding funding from the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees and seeking to redefine eligibility for refugee status.

“The administration has gone about dismantling the core elements that have constituted a traditional approach to a two-state solution,” said Aaron David Miller, a State Department veteran who worked under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The latest move “fits within the broader context of what the administration has been involved in,” he said.

But the timing of the announcement — two days before Blue and White chief Benny Gantz must form a government or see Israel face new elections — adds another dimension.

It seems, at least in part, designed to bolster Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he faces one of the toughest political battles of his life.

US President Donald Trump, left, welcomes visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

“I tend to think this was in the works for a while, and this was something that Netanyahu wanted credit for,” said David Makovsky, a special envoy to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Obama administration. “He sees this as kind of unfinished business from his tenure. I think it’s related to that and I tend to think there was a mind meld between Netanyahu and Ambassador David Friedman.”

Friedman, US President Donald Trump’s envoy to Israel, is a longtime supporter, financial and otherwise, of the West Bank settlements.

Indeed, a senior Israeli official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that Netanyahu had been pushing for the policy change “for a number of months.” The issue was advanced with the Israeli National Security Council and the department for international law at the attorney general’s office, the official said.

“This policy reflects a historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.

The move culminated in US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repudiating, in a news conference Monday, a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, November 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for longstanding US opposition to expanding the settlement enterprise, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, Pompeo said.

The decision is part of a line of others that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood.

The effect, Miller told The Times of Israel, will send a message to Israel that it’s okay to build more settlements in the West Bank — land that Palestinians see as their own for a future state.

“They have essentially green-lighted and validated — in an assertive act that was not necessary — the main transgression on the Israeli side that essentially has made the prospects of a [peace] settlement remote,” he said.

“I suppose domestic politics is part of it and throwing some lifeline to Netanyahu several days before Gantz’s time’s up might have been part of the calculation,” he added.

Makovsky said he wanted the White House to put out a statement clarifying that it is not condoning settlement expansion. “I hope the administration clarifies that this is not a call to start building settlements everywhere and make a two-state solution impossible,” he told The Times of Israel.

Construction in the northern West Bank settlement of Ariel in 2014. (Flash90)

Progressive American Jewish groups accused the Trump administration of using American foreign policy to help Netanyahu politically, all the while subverting US interests in the process.

“Coming at a moment when Prime Minister Netanyahu is struggling desperately for political survival and faces imminent indictment for corruption, the timing of this announcement can only be read as last-ditch attempt to boost the prime minister’s personal prospects,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, who heads the liberal Zionist group J Street.

“The president and his advisers have given the Israeli government carte blanche to expand settlements, entrench occupation and move toward formal annexation of the West Bank,” he went on. “By discarding decades of bipartisan US policy and flagrantly disregarding international law, they are trampling on the rights of Palestinians and helping the Israeli right-wing to destroy Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”

Settler leaders and right-wing politicians, meanwhile, called for the annexation of the West Bank or at least for implementing Israeli law in the settlements, a move that Netanyahu has vowed to enact in the last two election cycles this year.