Israel granted hundreds of building permits Sunday for residences in three East Jerusalem settlements in anticipation that President Donald Trump will no longer condemn such plans, Reuters reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the building plans off the table last December, initially believing the previous Obama administration would rebuke the Israelis.
The Palestinians condemned the move. “We strongly condemn the Israeli decision to approve the construction,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters.
The Israeli government felt betrayed by the previous administration in December after the U.S. withheld its usual veto of an anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council, which allowed the provision to pass.
Nevertheless, Jerusalem appears confident that Trump and the new administration will be more sympathetic to settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Many matters face us. The Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat,” Netanyahu said in a broadcast speech at the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting.
President Trump had his first phone conversation with the Prime Minister Sunday since Trump’s inauguration on Friday. According to a statement from the White House, “The President emphasized that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Israel to make progress towards that goal. The President invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to an early February meeting at the White House.”