Blinken and Gantz
Blinken and GantzShmulik Almani

US Sec. of State Binken said to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz that the plans for new construction plans in the settlements is "unacceptable".

According to a report by Barak Ravid (Walla News and Axios) there was a tense telephone conversation between the two yesterday.

The US Secretary of State clarified in the call that he "expects Israel to pay greater consideration in the future the US position on the settlements."

Gantz replied to Blinken that he had reduced the number of housing units which were to be approved as much as possible. Gantz added that he understood the Biden Administration's sensitivities regarding the settlements and stressed that he would take them into account in the future.

The Defense Minister told Blinken that alongside the discourse on the settlements and the controversy over the Israeli government's policy is the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority and the improvement of the lives of Palestinian Arabs. Senior Israeli officials noted that Gantz told Blinken that he had approved the promotion of plans to build 1,300 housing units for Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria, which has not happened for more than a decade.

Gantz told the US Secretary of State that he was criticized for meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for approving the registration of 4,000 Palestinians in the Judea and Samaria population registry. "I plan to take more such steps soon," Gantz told Blinken.

An Israeli official who was updated on the details of the conversation said it was "difficult." The senior Israeli official added: "The Americans issued us a yellow card."

The current dispute over settlement construction ocurred the same week that Gatnz signed orders defining six NGOs in the Palestinian Authority as terrorist organizations. Both issues provoked a critical public response from the State Department in Washington. This was the first time such criticism had been heard from the Americans since the formation of the new government in Israel.