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Netanyahu’s Freeze of ‘Jerusalem Bill’ Underscores Trump’s Influence Over Israeli Policy
President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a speech during a visit to the Israel Museum on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

Netanyahu’s Freeze of ‘Jerusalem Bill’ Underscores Trump’s Influence Over Israeli Policy

Following eight years of sparring between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama when it seemed to many that Netanyahu’s policies were often designed to be “in your face” gestures to the White House, the influence President Donald Trump holds over Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government represents a sea change some call “remarkable.” The first indications of the Trump hold over Netanyahu came when the Israeli leader visited the White House early-on in the Trump administration and quickly learned that “President” Trump was not “candidate” Trump. Then, the zinger came when President Trump apparently caught Prime Minister Netanyahu off-guard as he told the Israeli to lay-off settlement building for a while. More recently, Netanyahu quashed an already-announced plan to authorize new post-1967 housing upon “suggestion” of the White House; and now the PM has put a hold on a piece of legislation important to his right-wing base of support because President Trump wanted him to. The “Jerusalem Bill” would annex some 19 Jewish communities located on land Israel conquered in the 1967 war that the Palestinians want as part of their future state to the municipality of Jerusalem, but the Trump State Department said that would be provocative and counter to the American-led quest for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. When he nixed authorizations for thousands of new housing units, the PM admonished those who live in West Bank communities not to anger the “friendly government.” At his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told his government that “we have been coordinating with [the US] until now, it is worth it [to continue] talking and coordinating with them,” apparently even when the Trump government calls Israeli actions an “obstacle to peace.”

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