A plan to bolster Jewish settlement on the West Bank to the tune of 700 million shekels, will not be advanced by the government at this time, officials said, citing concerns raised by the Shin Bet and the National Security Council.
The ambitious plan that was authored by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and his party member Settlement Minister Orit Stroke was revealed last week and presented as a need to strengthen Jewish settlements and the lives of their residents amid the rise in terror attacks.
Sources said the plan would not be brought to the government for approval after the U.S. indicated its discontent. The American embassy did not deny the reports. "We do not comment on private diplomatic conversations," the embassy told Ynet. The National Security Council said there is still work that must be done before the plan can be considered.
Officials close to Stroke said that they are continuing work on the plan and that the minister met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent days, to finalize details of it. Sources in the Religious Zionist Party said the plan will be brought to the government in its next meeting on Sunday and would be advanced "especially now when we see how important it is to strengthen resilience in Judea and Samaria."
Smotrich who serves as a minister with authority over the West Bank, in the Defense Ministry intended to finance several projects in the region with a budget of 700 million shekel to be transferred by the end of 2024.
Some aspects of the plan were agreed on in the coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu and would need funds diverted from other projects. A third of the funding was to come from Stroke's ministry and the rest from the budgets of the Finance and National Security ministries.
The U.S. State Department said last week that settlement expansion undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It incites tensions and further harms trust between the 2 parties and we strongly oppose the advancement of settlements and urge Israel to refrain from this activity including the promotion of outposts," Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said.