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Netanyahu: I was in the dark about Qalqiliya expansion details
Prime Minister clarifies claim he ‘didn’t remember’ plan to expand PA cities, says he doesn’t remember being shown extent of expansion.
A day after it was reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had told coalition leaders he couldn’t remember a recent controversial cabinet decision, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement clarifying his comments, claiming that the Prime Minister had merely said he was in the dark about the details of the decision.
Last week, a cabinet decision to hand over large tracts of Israeli-controlled land in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority and the massive expansion of PA towns including Qalqiliya was revealed.
The plan, which would permit the construction of some 14,000-15,000 housing units in Qalqiliya, near the border with pre-1967 Israel, drew heavy criticism from right-wing coalition members.
In the wake of the backlash, the Prime Minister agreed to reconsider the decision on Sunday. According to a report by Channel 2, Netanyahu told coalition party leaders that he did not recall the decision in question.
“I can’t remember the cabinet decision made regarding the expansion of Qalqiliya, either,” Netanyahu reportedly said.
That report led to speculation the Prime Minister either was attempting to backtrack on the plan, or defer criticism on the decision to approve it.
On Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office released a formal statement to clarify Netanyahu’s comments, claiming that the Prime Minister had been misquoted in the Channel 2 report.
“In total contradiction to what was publicized by some media outlets,” the PMO’s statement read, “the Prime Minister simply said that he did not remember that the plan shown to him included 14,000 housing units.”
The PMO’s statement noted that according to the cabinet’s records, no mention was made of the number of units planned for Qalqiliya or other PA cities, and that the Prime Minister’s claim that he was unaware of the plan’s dimensions was correct.