Bennett meets Yesha council
Bennett meets Yesha council spokesperson

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met today (Thursday) with the heads of the Yesha Council.

The meeting dealt with issues related to the development of the settlements in Judea and Samaria and the strengthening of local authorities in the area. It was agreed to continue working together to advance the issues.

The meeting was attended by Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani, Secretary General Amana CEO Zeev Hever, Yesha Council CEO Yigal Dilmoni and Yesha Council Deputy Chairman Matanya Shapira.

This is the first official meeting between Bennett and the leaders of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria since the inauguration of the new government. Bennett promised that construction in Judea and Samaria would not stop but would continue at the same pace as in recent years. "I am committed to the settlements," the prime minister clarified. "There will be no construction freeze, but there will also be no annexation."

"I am committed to the settlements and I have not abandoned that path," Bennett stressed at the meeting. "I made it clear to the Americans that we would not stop construction."

The meeting was held against the backdrop of harsh criticism from settlement leaders and the right over Defense Minister Benny Gantz's meeting last week with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his subsequent agreement to lend the PA NIS 500 million.

Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani said following the agreement: "I have a very serious problem with what Gantz did yesterday. To meet with a Holocaust denier and corrupt official? This should not be on the defense minister's mind. You want to Palestinian economy? Build roads, do not transfer hundreds of millions that will be used to build palaces for the corrupt there."