Growing frustration in Likud with Trump administration

'Trump has great rhetoric, but in practice not much has happened,' says Knesset Land of Israel Lobby chair.

Hezki Baruch , | updated: 2:53 PM

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Likud leaders expressed frustration with the Trump administration during a meeting in Maaleh Adumim Tuesday afternoon; the first open criticism by senior Likud officials of the president since he took office this January.

At the meeting, which was hosted by Maaleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel and included Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, senior Likud members echoed statements made by Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) Monday to NRG.

While Elkin said that the Trump administration was by and large a significant improvement over its predecessor, he noted that vis-à-vis Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, the White House’s attitude had changed little.

“We, the Land of Israel Lobby, have presented a bill to extend Israeli sovereignty over Maaleh Adumim, and I have brought the Greater Jerusalem bill, which includes sovereignty,” said Kish. “The idea is to create a metropolitan area of Jerusalem.”

"[T]he only thing that has not changed is the negative way it looks at Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria. On this issue, the administration continues the tradition of the Obama administration."

"Even this current administration, as friendly to us as they are, need to be told that some things are a national interest, such as building in Hevron."

During Tuesday’s meeting, MK Yoav Kish, chairman of the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset, also criticized the Trump administration’s policies relating to Israeli housing projects in Judea and Samaria.

“I have a lot of criticism for America’s involvement in what’s happening on the ground [in Judea and Samaria]. President Trump speaks very well, but at the end of the day practically speaking we don’t see enough change, and I’m frustrated with that. We need to keep pressuring. We expect action from the Americans, not just rhetoric.”

Deputy Construction Minister Jackie Levy agreed with Elkin’s critique of the White House, saying that it Israel needed to make its position clear to the US.

“We all agree with what Elkin said. We need the Americans as partners, but even with our partners we have to say that we need to live and build.”

MK Nava Boker expressed a desire for compromise, but added that Israel had its red lines, saying that she “agrees that there is a serious problem in terms of our relationship with the US, and we need to solve that. Maybe we should build a little and compromise. But Maaleh Adumim should not be part of the equation. We need to take it off the table and extend sovereignty over it.”

Likud meeting in Maaleh Adumim
Hezki Baruch