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Pressure on Netanyahu Builds from Right and Left; Trump Administration Seeks to Set Policy

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is under growing pressure from the political left and his own right wing on issues Candidate Trump promised during the campaign but has since walked back. Atop the list of “policies needed urgently” is how to handle building in the West Bank. “Settlements” – Israeli communities built on land Israel conquered in the 1967 war that the Palestinians claim for their future state and which most of the international community considers illegal – are at the heart of the issue. Netanyahu’s primary support base favors the “settlement enterprise” and allowed Trump’s campaign rhetoric to be seen as a promise to allow building at an accelerated pace. His opposition, meanwhile, views President Trump’s admonition to “go easy on settlements for a bit” — on post-1967 building — as an indication that to do otherwise will turn the Trump-driven euphoria into the angst experienced during former President Obama’s tenure. Netanyahu appears to be intent on treading lightly with the new president and accordingly, has held-off identifying a location to rebuild a nascent community evacuated pursuant to a ruling by Israel’s High Court, despite the growing anxiety of his supporters on the political right. Israelis are nevertheless gratified to see that President Trump, rather than allowing the difference of opinion with the Israelis fester, is assigning senior adviser Jason Greenblatt to work out a policy with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, the official believed to have the closest relationship with Netanyahu.