A new spirit seems to be sweeping through the Israeli government with the start of the new US administration. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet Sunday that "building in Jerusalem will continue without restrictions, and Maaleh Adumim will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any future agreement" with the Palestinian Authority.
"Soon, I will also announce extensive construction in settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. Under my vision, all the settlements will be under Israeli sovereignty," he added.
The prime minister spoke at a cabinet discussion on Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria now that US President Donald Trump has taken office.
The discussion took place after Naftali Bennett, leader of the Habayit Hayehudi political party, refused to allow one executive committee to postpone a debate on a bill that would apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jerusalem suburb of Maaleh Adumim.
Netanyahu had asked that the debate be postponed until after his planned meeting with Trump next month, so as not to surprise the new US administration with unexpected moves. In a countermove to Bennett's refusal, the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet voted unanimously to wait until after the Netanyahu-Trump meeting to discuss the bill.
Also on Sunday, a meeting of ministers from Netanyahu's political party, Likud, became a scene of intense diplomatic discussion.
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis told Netanyahu that "the Trump administration is an opportunity to spell out Likud's policy. I oppose a Palestinian state."
Netanyahu replied: "If you knew what I was offering the Palestinians for a state, you might change your position."
The prime minister explained that he was offering the Palestinians a state on a limited scale, which he described as a "state minus."
After the sit-down with his faction's ministers, Netanyahu entered the weekly cabinet meeting, where he said, "No one looks out for the settlement enterprise more than the Likud government and I do, and we'll continue to look out for it wisely and responsibly, for the good of the settlements and the good of Israel."
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=39783