Trump: Phone call with Netanyahu ‘very nice’

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — U.S. President Donald Trump said a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “very nice.”

The leaders spoke early Sunday afternoon eastern standard time.

Trump made his comment on the phone call later Sunday afternoon, when asked by reporters following a White House swearing-in ceremony for some Trump administration advisers.

Netanyahu said earlier in the day: “There are many issues between us including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat.”

Prior to the phone conversation, Netanyahu reportedly told his Security Cabinet that he would lift restrictions on building in eastern Jerusalem, and that he would soon announce West Bank settlement bloc expansion, the Times of Israel reported.

Also on Sunday, Israeli government ministers postponed a vote on annexing the large West Banks settlement of Maaleh Adumim, after agreeing to wait to decide on the issue until after Netanyahu and Trump meet in the coming weeks, as early as the beginning of February.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday agreed to wait to vote on the proposed bill, which would subject the settlement to Israeli law, thereby annexing it.

The international community and the Palestinians argue that making Maaleh Adumim an official part of Israel will prevent the formation of a Palestinian state since it would prevent territorial contiguity.

Netanyahu on Friday called on Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home Party, to postpone discussion on the bill, saying Trump’s advisors had asked him to hold off, and  asked that there be no unilateral steps taken by Israel prior to a Trump-Netanyahu meeting.