Benny Gantz speaks at a Blue and White party meeting, June 29, 2020. The defense minister reportedly said that "anything that is not related to the coronavirus will wait.” (Noam Moskowitz)

(JTA) — Benny Gantz, Israel’s second in command, has become much friendlier with the settler community in recent weeks following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to declare sovereignty over all or part of the West Bank. That vow has been put on indefinite hold following the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Now Gantz wants to convene a planning committee to approve 5,000 housing units in the West Bank. The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria has not met since February, resulting in a six-month freeze on planning housing in Jewish settlements.

Convening the committee requires the prime minister’s approval, and Gantz sent a letter on Sunday to Netanyahu asking for permission.

Gantz, currently the defense minister, will take over as prime minister next year under the government coalition agreement. He heads the centrist Blue and White party, which makes up part of the current coalition.

The committee would meet to consider the final approval of building plans for some 2,000 apartments and the initial plans for another 3,000. The units are located in settlement blocs and isolated settlements, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.


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