Published: Sat, April 01, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Israeli leader set to approve first new settlement in decades

According to Israeli human rights group B'tselem, roughly 125 settlements have been built on land Israel occupied after the 1967 war with Jordan.

President Donald Trump on Friday fired a warning shot at Israel over a new West Bank settlement Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's government approved on Thursday.

Yousef Mahmoud, a Palestinian government spokesman, said in a statement that "this new escalation reveals the persistence of the occupation government to continue opposing and obstructing all efforts exerted to resume the peace process".

Netanyahu has described as inaccurate recent reports in the Israeli media about a formula that would confine activity to settlement blocks that Israel intends to keep under any territorial agreement with the Palestinians, possibly in return for land swaps.

The Palestinian Authority, for its part, continues to call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem - now occupied by Israel - as its capital.

The cabinet also invited tenders for almost 2,000 new homes in existing settlements and discussed retroactively legalising three outposts, Peace Now said.

The cabinet also advanced construction tenders from 2,000 new homes and declared 250 acres of the West Bank as state land.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in December that demanded a halt to settlement building after the United States, Israel's ally, abstained from the vote.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced the decision late Thursday following a meeting of his policy making Security Cabinet.

Trump has not outlined a vision for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although he has said he'd be keen to broker a peace deal.

But Netanyahu also said that in response to President Trump's positions the government would limit new construction in the more than 100 existing settlements to those areas already built.

Palestinians and much of the worldwide community consider all Israeli building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal. Mr Friedman, who was sworn in on March 29th, is a longtime supporter of the Israeli right and has raised funds for building on the settlement of Beit El, well inside the West Bank.

Construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. The United Nations, the PA, and anti-Israel NGO's wasted no time in condemning the move.

Netanyahu said he was following through on a pledge he made a few weeks ago to 40 settler families who were evacuated from the illegal hilltop outpost of Amona. Instead, construction during that period has expanded existing settlements or taken place in unauthorized outposts like Amona.

"Today's announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace", she said.

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