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Latest Israel News – 3rd April

Three hurt in Jerusalem Old City stabbing, attacker shot dead

An assailant stabbed two young men and a police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City Saturday afternoon, wounding them, before being shot and killed by security forces, police said.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the teenage terrorist stabbed two Jewish youths before fleeing, with police forces giving chase. He then stabbed one of the policemen before he was shot.

The victims — two civilians aged 18 and 20, and a border policeman in his early 20s — received treatment at the scene and were taken to hospital. They were said to suffer light-to-moderate wounds.

The attack took place on Haggai Street in the Muslim Quarter. This was the second stabbing attack in the Old City this week.

The assailant was identified by Palestinian media as 17-year-old Ahmad Jazal from the West Bank village of Sebastia, near Nablus.

Shortly before carrying out the attack Jazal photographed himself smiling outside the Temple Mount’s Dome of the Rock. The photos were shared by Palestinians on social media, with some praising the “martyr” for his actions.

Soon after the attack clashes broke out between stone-throwing Palestinians and police officers who used stun grenades, an AFP photographer said.

On Wednesday Border Police shot and killed a woman as she attempted to stab them with scissors outside Damascus Gate. The Palestinian Health Ministry later identified the assailant as Siham Rateb Nimir, 49, from East Jerusalem.

According to Palestinian media, her son was Mustafa Nimir, who was shot dead by Border Police officers in September after an apparent misunderstanding at an East Jerusalem checkpoint.

Border guards closed off some the entrances and exits to the Old City following the incident and cleared the areas surrounding them, pushing back bystanders.

In the past year and a half the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in one case a Jordanian national. (the Times of Israel)

Israel to ‘significantly’ reduce construction, but not stop it

Israel’s new policy on construction in Judea and Samaria will be in line with President Donald Trump’s views on the issue.

At Thursday night’s Cabinet meeting, during which a new community for the residents of Amona was approved, Netanyahu told the ministers that taking into account Trump’s positions, Israel will take significant steps to reduce the expansion of the built-up areas of Judea and Samaria.

He added that Israel would significantly reduce new construction in the region “in order to allow for progress in the peace process.”

As part of the new policy, Israel will build within the existing built-up areas, wherever possible, and wherever possible, Israel will build near the existing construction line.

In places where these two criteria cannot be met due to legal, security or topographical constraints, Israel will allow construction in the area closest to the existing construction line.

Netanyahu also clarified to the ministers that Israel would not allow the establishment of new unorganized outposts.

Meanwhile, a senior White House official told Haaretz on Thursday night that Netanyahu had committed to the creation of a new community for the residents of Amona before Trump directly expressed his concerns regarding further construction.

According to the official, Netanyahu told the American government that he intends to stand by his commitment to build a new community for the residents of Amona. At the same time, the official also said that Netanyahu was also planning to adopt a new policy on Judea and Samaria from here on out that would take Trump’s concerns into account.

“President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements,” said the official.

“As the Administration has made clear: while the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace. The Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the President’s concerns into consideration. The United States welcomes this.

“We will continue to work with Israelis and Palestinians, and other players in the region, to create a climate that is conducive to peace. We hope that the parties will take reasonable actions moving forward that create a climate that is conducive to peace,” added the official.

During Thursday’s meeting of the Political-Security Cabinet, the Prime Minister notified the ministers that 2,000 of the 5,700 housing units approved for construction in Judea and Samaria in January were now approved for immediate planning and marketing.

In addition, the Prime Minister informed the cabinet that nearly 1,000 dunams (247 acres) of land in Samaria would be declared state land. The land in question is located near the Jewish towns of Eli, and Adei Ad.  (Arutz Sheva)

US-Israel talks on settlement building suspended

Talks between Israel and the US on curbing settlement building have reportedly been suspended after negotiations failed to yield an agreement.

Israel Radio reported Sunday the negotiations have been put on hold after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jason Greenblatt — US President Donald Trump’s special envoy — and working groups on both sides failed to reach understandings on the issue.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report, which comes days after the Israeli government announced self-imposed settlement restrictions.

On Thursday, Netanyahu told members of the security cabinet that Israel would curtail construction in West Bank settlements as a goodwill gesture to Trump.

The Prime Minister’s Office said overnight Thursday-Friday any future construction would be limited to existing settlement boundaries or adjacent to them.

However, if legal, security or topographical limitations do not allow adherence to those guidelines, new homes will be built outside the current settlement boundaries but as close as possible to them.

Israel will also prevent the construction of any new illegal outposts, Netanyahu told his ministers.

The White House on Friday welcomed the new policy.

“The Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the President’s concerns into consideration,” a White House spokesman told The Times of Israel. “The United States welcomes this.”

The announcement by Israel came just hours after the security cabinet had decided to establish a new settlement for families evicted from the razed Amona outpost — the first new settlement in some 25 years. The restrictions do not apply to that community.

Amona, north of Ramallah, was evacuated by court-order earlier this year because it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Its replacement, which Netanyahu promised to the evacuees, will be the first new Jewish town in the territory since the 1993 Oslo Accords.

The UK, France, Germany, Jordan, the United Nations and the Palestinians immediately slammed the move as an obstacle to peace.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office also announced the approval of tenders for some 2,000 new settlement homes — housing units whose planned construction was first announced in January.

Trump had asked Netanyahu at a joint press conference last month for Israel to “hold back” on West Bank settlement construction. Several efforts since then to formulate a coordinated Israeli-US position on settlements have not yielded an agreement.

While Israel stopped establishing new settlements in the early 1990s, outposts set up since then have been given retroactive approval, and existing settlements have expanded their footprints, sometimes being neighborhoods of existing settlements in name only.   (the Times of Israel)

Close to 40 Palestinian schools named for terrorists

Schools in the United States are often named for historical figures, with a large majority of them having the names of Presidents – Lincoln, Jefferson, Kennedy, Roosevelt – and other public and historical figures. The educational message transmitted is one of patriotism, continuity, and honor to those who so notably contributed to their country.

In the Palestinian Authority, however, the situation is somewhat different. There, dozens of schools are named for murderers. A list compiled <https://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=608 by Palestinian Media Watch> (PMW) finds close to 40 schools named for terrorists who succeeded in murdering large numbers of Israelis, “thereby presenting murderers who targeted civilians as role models for Palestinian ‎children.”

Names of ‎some schools glorify Martyrdom, and one is even named for a Hitler ‎associate and Nazi war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands. Children in ‎such schools interviewed on PA TV have explained that studying there turned the terrorists into role models for them, who then want to “reach ‎the level” of the terrorist their school is named after. ‎[Official PA TV, March 27, 2014]‎

Among the highlights of the list:

Three schools – the Dalal Mughrabi High Schools in Gaza and Hevron and a kindergarten in Dura – are named after the female terrorist who led the most lethal terror ‎attack in Israel’s history. She and others hijacked a bus in 1978, and they murdered 37 civilians, including 12 children.

Three schools and a college are also named after Abu Jihad, planner of the above attack. ‎

Another three schools – in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza – are named for Salah Khalaf, who planned the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics (Sept. 5, 1972), and the murder of two Americans in Sudan (March 1, 1973).

The Amin Al-Husseini Elementary School, in El-Bireh ‎just north of Jerusalem, is named for a notorious Nazi collaborator, the Grand ‎Mufti of Jerusalem during the ‎British Mandate. At one point during World War II, he was responsible for a Muslim SS ‎division that murdered thousands ‎of Serbs and Croats. When the ‎Nazis offered to free some Jewish ‎children, Al-Husseini fought against ‎their release, and 5,000 ‎were sent to the gas chambers.‎

The Martyr Ahmed Yassin School for Boys in Jenin is named after Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, responsible for many terror attacks and the deaths of ‎hundreds of civilians in suicide bombings. ‎

A girls’ school in Tulkarem, near Kfar Saba, is named after Hamas bomb builder Nash’at Abu Jabara.

Two schools and a high school sports auditorium, all in Gaza, are named after the planner of the Munich Olympics massacre, Ali Hassan Salameh, in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.‎ (Arutz Sheva)

With a storm on the horizon, Israel turns on its latest missile defense system

Storm clouds, both literal and figurative, loomed overhead as two batteries of Israel’s latest missile defense system — the David’s Sling — went operational on Sunday.

At a ceremony at the Hatzor Air Base not far from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s top defense officials boasted of the capabilities afforded by the state-of-the-art batteries, as tensions with Hamas threaten to put them to a real-time test soon.

Tensions with Hamas — who have reportedly now also acquired rockets with much larger warheads — have spiraled in recent weeks following the killing of a top Hamas leader.

Hamas has accused Israel of the apparent assassination of its terror chief Mazen Faqha on March 25 and threatened revenge.

Israel has not acknowledged any role in the hit and early Syunday Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman insinuated the terrorist group was responsible for killing Faqha.

As the ceremony was taking place Hamas rejected Liberman’s hints and said it came from a place of fear.

While Liberman also said Sunday that Israel has no plans for another “adventure” in Gaza, some analysts and officials have raised the possibility that a fourth round of violence between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas approaches.

Just before the event, the head of the Israeli Air Force’s Aerial Defense Command, Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch warned that such a conflict with Hamas would “be more challenging” than previous ones in light of the highly explosive, short-range rockets reportedly acquired by the terrorist group.

The David’s Sling, which is designed for mid-range missiles, would not protect Israel against this new variety of projectile and even the IDF’s Iron Dome short-range interceptor system would also struggle against these rockets.

However, standing in front of one of the David’s Sling batteries, Haimovitch said his unit was better prepared than ever to face the rocket threat.

“The David’s Sling, along with the other systems, will give us another layer, another ability,” he said. “I believe that while the next campaign will be more challenging, we will see an air defense network that’s much better trained and much more fit.”

Threats, jokes, electrical failures

At the start of the ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the Israeli Air Force Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel unveiled the symbols of the air force and Aerial Defense Command on one of the David’s Sling batteries, while Liberman and Haimovitch did the same to the second.

The David’s Sling, also known as the Magic Wand, is designed to shoot down incoming missiles with ranges of 40-300 kilometers (25-190 miles), meaning it could be used against Hamas’s longer-range rockets, but would more likely be deployed against missiles fired by Hezbollah or Syria, such as the Iranian Fateh 110 or its Syrian equivalent, the M600.

The lowest layer of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system is the aforementioned Iron Dome, capable of intercepting short-range rockets, small unmanned aerial vehicles and some mortar shells like those that have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip or from southern Lebanon. And at the top are the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which are intended to engage long-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow was put in use for the first time on March 17, when it downed an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile.

But even with the full complement of missile defense systems, defense officials warn that it is not a hermetic seal and some rockets will inevitably slip past the array.

On stage, Netanyahu spoke forcefully about the importance of the new system and its use not only to “defend the home front, but to let us win the battle.”

‘I will reiterate, that whoever wants to strike us will be beaten, and those who threaten our existence are putting their own lives at risk’

Looking out past the crowd and into the cameras behind it, Netanyahu gave an stark warning to Israel’s enemies: “I will reiterate, that whoever wants to strike us will be beaten, and those who threaten our existence are putting their own lives at risk.”

Liberman, in an apparent attempt to lighten the mood, dedicated a a large chunk his speech to a personal anecdote.

As a fresh immigrant from Moldova, the defense minister lived on the adjacent Hatzor Ashdod kibbutz shortly after arriving in Israel in 1978, where he learned Hebrew.

Liberman told one of the counselors of his language program he wanted to visit the air base, to see from where the planes he heard and saw every day were taking off and landing.

The counselor laughed at the future defense minister. “What are you crazy? It’s forbidden! I doubt you’ll ever be able to visit there,” Liberman recalled him saying, prompting laughs from the crowd.

Turning serious, the defense minister noted the need for such a system, in light of what he described as an arms race in the region.

“In 2016, just the countries in the Middle East invested some $220 billion (NIS 800 million) in defense purchases — not including Iran,” Liberman said.

David’s Sling was developed in a joint project by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which was represented at the ceremony by its head, Vice Admiral James Syring.

The head of the Israeli Air Force Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel began a speech praising the soldiers of the Air Defense Command as the “true secret” behind Israel’s security, rather than the technology. They “act professionally and with endless dedication and perseverance,” Eshel said.

Eshel started as head of the air force in 2012 and oversaw much of the integration of the Iron Dome system, which went operational in 2011. He is due to leave his position in the coming months.

The clouds menacing overhead didn’t spill more than a few drops during the ceremony, but half-way through Eshel’s speech, his microphone cut out as power to the stage was lost.

The rest of his remarks — mostly thank yous — were made without electronic amplification, and the crowd sang its own slightly-off-tune version of the Hatikva national anthem to bring the event to a close              (the Times of Israel)

Hamas looking undersea, not just underground, for attack routes

While Hamas’s terror tunnels and its reportedly refilled and upgraded rocket arsenal garner attention, the Israeli Navy is keeping a watchful eye on the terror group’s growing maritime capabilities and is investing its resources in preventing attacks “at sea and from the sea,” a naval officer said.

Since the 50-day war in 2014, Hamas has developed both its tactics and weaponry for sea-based warfare, training “endlessly” to carry out attacks with them, according to Maj. Irad Shtatar.

A 20-year veteran of the navy, Shtatar commands the Ashdod Observation Company, a unit of mostly female soldiers who monitor optical cameras and radar arrays.

“We see rearming on every level on the sea-front — systems, weapons and trainings. Hamas sees the sea as an option to achieve its aggressive, operational ambitions,” he said in his office at the Ashdod Naval Base.

“In parallel, we are tracking these developments to make sure that we have a response to these threats,” he added.

Hamas naval smuggling of people and materiel appears to have dropped off significantly, if not stopped completely, according to Shtatar.

However, he said, there’s no way to ensure a “hermetic” seal of Gaza’s coast, leaving open the possibility that people could still be smuggled via the sea.

In the time immediately following the 2014 war, the navy saw an increase in such smuggling attempts. But while there are regular reports of Israeli sailors firing warning shots toward Gazan fishing boats, Shtatar said his team has not seen any cases of it in nearly a year.

He credits this to both the efforts of the Navy and the comparative ease with which Hamas can smuggle illicit goods through underground tunnels into the Sinai Peninsula.

A small fishing boat, after all, can only carry so much materiel, whereas a tunnel can bring in far more, he noted.

Frogmen and submarine drones

Set up on two coastal control centers, Shtatar’s company watches above and, increasingly, below the water 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for infiltrations to Israel from the sea, smuggling and attacks on the country’s shipping lanes and gas fields.

“Hamas is making serious developments in the underwater domain,” Shtatar said, but would not elaborate on what specific types of weaponry the navy believes Hamas has acquired.

However, Mohammed al-Zoari, a Tunisian expert in unmanned vehicles, was said to be constructing small, remote-controlled submarine drones for the terrorist group when he was killed by gunmen in December. (The Mossad was blamed for the killing; Israel would not comment on the allegation.)

Analysts have also warned that Israel could be vulnerable to naval mines, like those that flooded global black markets with the fall of the Soviet Union.

According to a 2015 assessment of Hamas written jointly by a researcher in the Prime Minister’s Office and Gabi Siboni, a program director at the Institute of National Security Studies think-tank in Tel Aviv, were the terrorist group to sink an Israeli naval ship, it would “generate a story of victory, which it long has been hoping to achieve.”

But the terrorist group is working not only to attack Israeli military targets, but against civilian ones as well.

“Attacking civilians is Hamas’s raison d’être,” Siboni said, in a phone conversation this week.

In terms of attacks from the sea, over the past two years, Israel uncovered multiple attempts to smuggle wetsuits and other scuba gear into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which the Defense Ministry says were bound for Hamas and its frogmen units.

This type of attack was carried out during the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. On July 8, 2014, four Hamas naval commandos swam ashore outside Kibbutz Zikim on Israel’s southern coast.

The frogmen brought with them automatic weapons, fragmentation grenades and explosives, the latter of which they used against an Israeli tank, unsuccessfully. Some 40 minutes after they came in from the surf, the Hamas operatives were killed in a combined attack from the sea, ground and air, and the incident came to a close.

Initially presented by the military as an unmitigated victory, a leaked IDF review of the incident later showed the army’s response to be slower than previously thought and the commandos’ attack to be more successful than it had seemed. (Their attack on the tank, for instance, was not initially reported.)

To prevent such coastal infiltrations in the future, Shtatar’s soldiers use “advanced optical cameras and radar,” as well us underwater sonar systems to track the movements of objects at sea, he said.

From Gaza to Netanya, 24 hours a day

The enlisted soldiers in the Ashdod Observation Company are exclusively female, Shtatar said, while the officers are a mix of men and women.

This is not unique to Shtatar’s unit, throughout the navy, air force and ground forces, only women serve in these surveillance monitoring positions, as per the army’s understanding that they are better suited for the task than male soldiers.

The unit is responsible for the waters from Gaza to just above Netanya, while the rest of the coast is monitored by soldiers in the Haifa Observation Company.

Much of the soldiers’ time is spent watching and tracking Gazan fishermen, whose industry makes up a significant part of the Strip’s economy.

As part of the naval blockade on Gaza, which Israel says is necessary for security reasons, fishermen must stay within 6 miles (9.66 kilometers) of the shore.

Last year, that was temporarily extended in the southern half of the Gaza coast to 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) during the spring fishing season and, according to Shtatar, Israel intends to do the same this year as well.

There were plans to enlarge the fishing zone for the fall season, but they eventually fell apart. Israel blamed the Palestinians for failing to abide by the conditions for the extension. Gazans blamed Israel for setting “unrealistic” demands.

Palestinian fishermen who attempt to leave the permitted fishing area or those behaving “suspiciously” are intercepted by the navy, for fear that those ships could be used for smuggling or attacks, Shtatar said.

A smuggling attempt was prevented in April 2016. A ship was spotted behaving suspiciously off the Gaza coast. When a navy patrol boat was called to the scene, the ship’s crew began dumping cargo overboard before jumping into the water themselves. Once the ship was empty, the navy boat blew it up.

A few months later, the suspected smuggler was arrested after the ship he was sailing left the designated fishing zone, according to the Shin Bet.

The Ashdod Observation Company also monitors the ships coming in and out of the Ashdod port and Israel’s commercial shipping lanes, which may not represent a security risk, but are considered a strategic asset, which could also be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

His soldiers monitor the seas around the clock, every day of the year, with the knowledge that they are responsible for the security of civilians and their fellow soldiers, Shtatar said.

“It’s Sisyphean work,” he said. “But I wake up every morning with a smile.”  (the Times of Israel)

Though politically challenging, new settlement curb likely a win-win for Netanyahu

Publicly committing to restrain West Bank construction seems like a major concession. But the new framework prevents clashes with both Trump and the settlers, and is actually in line with the PM’s strategic outlook

By Raphael Ahren                The Times of Israel


Israel’s announcement of a new policy of restraint in settlement expansion was well-orchestrated.

On Thursday morning, during a meeting with the Slovak president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that later in the day the cabinet would greenlight a new West Bank settlement for the evacuees of Amona, an illegal outpost dismantled in February. “I promised at the outset that we would build a new community. I believe that I first gave that promise back in December and we will uphold it today,” he said.

At 10:25 p.m., the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the cabinet had indeed decided, in a unanimous vote, to create the first new officially sanctioned West Bank settlement in some 25 years. The announcement came just in time to make the Friday morning newspapers.

But once the papers’ deadlines had passed — at 1:21 a.m. — Israeli reporters were informed that the government had also decided to “significantly restrain” the expansion of settlements beyond their current boundaries, in a nod to the US administration’s concerns regarding settlement construction.

The timing of that announcement guaranteed that no newspaper would mention that important caveat in its reports on the first new settlement in decades, thus dramatically decreasing the chance of it becoming a topic for discussion at Shabbat dinner tables around the country on Friday evening.

Israel’s “new policy,” as the government itself called it, is a far cry from the “not one brick policy” of former US president Barack Obama, who vehemently opposed any settlement construction beyond the 1967 lines, including in Jerusalem neighborhoods that will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any conceivable peace agreement.

Indeed, the new arrangement allows Israel, in theory, to expand any settlement it wishes, anywhere in the West Bank, under the condition that the construction does not expand an existing settlement’s “footprint.” The cabinet also said that no new settlements — besides the one to compensate the evacuees of Amona, announced earlier on Thursday — would be built.

Likud ministers on Friday morning defended the new policy, stressing that no settlement would be uprooted and that Israel would be allowed to build anywhere in its eternal united capital of Jerusalem. That was to be expected, since it was the leader of their party who was behind the new policy.

But even the pro-settlement Yesha Council accepted the new framework without protest. “The understandings reached between the government of Israel and the US administration allow for the continuation of settlement construction in all communities in Judea and Samaria, in addition to the establishment of a new community for the residents of Amona,” the group said in a statement.

Gamble or gain?

On the face of it, the new policy is a major concession on Netanyahu’s part. The prime minister agreed to significantly curb construction in the territories, just weeks after he declared that no government had done more for the settlement enterprise than this one. He did so, his office said, “out of consideration of President Trump’s position.”

Some right-wingers indeed mourned the agreement, disappointed that Donald Trump had failed to materialize as the pro-settler messiah they had imagined he would be. Left-wing pundits agreed, saying that if Obama had forced such a policy on Israel he would have been accused of being anti-Semitic.

The prime minister routinely insists that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace. Trump disagrees. He said as much in his February 10 interview with the Israel Hayom daily. “They [settlements] don’t help the process. I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left,” he told the paper.

As of Friday morning, this difference of opinion found expression in an explicit policy directive with the blessing of the cabinet. The new policy could be viewed as the first tiny ray of daylight between Netanyahu’s government and the Trump administration. It might also pose a serious threat to the prime minister’s political standing. As of this writing, his main rival on the right, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, had not publicly commented on the new policy. Other members of his nationalist Jewish Home party, however, have not hidden their disappointment.

In recent months, Netanyahu has heaped praise on Trump and his administration. The Israeli leader’s unadulterated adulation for the new president took him as far as tweeting out praise for Trump’s plan to build a border wall with Mexico — leading to a diplomatic crisis with that country — and playing down concerns over the administration’s unfortunate International Holocaust Memorial Day statement that omitted mention of Jewish suffering and lax response to rising anti-Semitism in the US.

By so emphatically embracing Trump, Netanyahu risked alienating much of the American Jewish community and half of the US population. He did so presumably thinking the president would pay him back in kind and adopt his hawkish views on Iran and grant him free rein on the Palestinian issue.

On Iran, the US administration and the government in Jerusalem are still exactly on the same page. But when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and particular the question of West Bank settlement construction, Trump and Netanyahu are now officially at odds.

And yet, the new policy might turn out to be a win-win for Netanyahu. For a start, despite a not insignificant difference of opinion on settlements, he avoided major friction with the White House — a dramatic difference from his relationship with the Obama administration.

Secondly, reining in settlement construction is actually in line with Netanyahu’s strategic and ideological outlook on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite his public comments, he is no advocate of unfettered settlement growth. Although he has in recent weeks avoided speaking about a two-state solution, he does oppose a unitary state.

“I don’t want to incorporate two million Palestinians as citizens of Israel. Nor do I want them as subjects of Israel,” he said last month during a press conference in Australia, dismissing suggestion he was in favor of a one-state solution. Netanyahu knows that unlimited settlement growth, including the creation of new settlements, would eventually lead to such an outcome, even though political pressures prevent him from saying this openly.

The coming days will show how Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition will react to the new reality. Currently it looks as if Jewish Home and the hawkish members of his own Likud party will manage to contain their disappointment — many saw in Trump’s election the dawn of a new era for Greater Israel that would massively build in and eventually annex the West Bank — and won’t attempt to derail the government.

If so, Netanyahu will have reasons to celebrate. He will have publicly agreed to curb settlement expansion, which is in his strategic interest, while avoiding clashes with the US administration on the one hand and the settler lobby on the other.

Where are your Jews ?