US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will speak Sunday for the first time since the inauguration on Friday.
Netanyahu said he was set to speak with the billionaire businessman turned president later in the day, while Israeli officials also approved hundreds of new homes in Jerusalem that had been postponed until after Trump took office.
“This evening there will be a telephone conversation between President Trump and myself,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
“There are many issues between us, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat.”
Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
Former president Barack Obama’s administration repeatedly criticized Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem and declined to veto a December 23 UN Security Council resolution condemning it.
Trump called for the resolution to be vetoed.
The United States is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion per year in defense aid.
– ‘We can finally build’ –
In an initial move following Trump’s inauguration, Israeli officials on Sunday approved building permits for 566 homes in Jerusalem.
“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman told AFP.
“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”
A draft bill to annex the city of Ma’ale Adumim was also expected to be discussed by ministers on Sunday.
Netanyahu however was reportedly seeking to delay a vote on the measure by a panel of ministers, arguing Trump’s team had indicated no unilateral moves should be taken so soon.
“We have to tell the American administration what we want and not wait for orders from the administration,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party told Israel’s army radio on Sunday.
“There is no reason for us not to take unilateral steps that we believe are correct.”