Israel new homes only in current settlements, media reports

The Israeli cabinet gave unanimous backing late Thursday to the first officially sanctioned new settlement in the occupied West Bank in more than 20 years.

In February, President Donald Trump said that he would like to see Israel "hold back on settlements a little bit". The talks, however, ended in a stalemate, with the White House expressing its "concerns" about settlement construction.

Thursday's announcement comes despite no agreement between the Trump and Netanyahu governments on how to address settlements.

Israel's security cabinet has given the go-ahead for a first new settlement to built on the West Bank in two decades.

Mr Netanyahu's decision, to press ahead with one new settlement while in effect restricting all other construction, is closely co-ordinated with the White House.

The Palestinians have earmarked the West Bank and East Jerusalem as territories for any future Palestinian state.

"Going forward. the Israeli government has made clear that Israel's intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes President Trump's concerns into consideration, " the statement said.

The decision was made as a gesture to the Trump administration, which is hoping to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.




There was no immediate reaction from US President Donald Trump's administration, which is in discussions with Israel on limiting the construction of settlements on land Palestinians seek for a state.

A UN-commissioned report concluded earlier this month that Israel's policies toward the Palestinians, including the settlement regime in the West Bank, amount to apartheid.

"We would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations, and has consistently indicated that he meant to move forward with this plan", the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity. Land Day commemorates the killing of six Arab citizens of Israel by the Israeli army and police on March 30, 1976 during protests over Israeli confiscations of Arab land.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union's High Representative on Foreign Affairs, said in a statement the decision to establish a new settlement threatens "to further undermine prospects for a two state solution, which remains the only realistic way to fulfill the aspirations on both sides".

A White House official was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying that talks between Israel and the US on limiting settlement construction were ongoing, but the Amona decision may have remained outside those discussions.

Around 600,000 Israelis live in more than 200 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "Israel will strive to follow the administration's wishes, and in return the US will neither condemn nor approve construction, whether inside or outside the settlement blocs". Instead, construction during that period has expanded existing settlements or taken place in unauthorized outposts like Amona. Netanyahu's government is dominated by pro-settler hard-liners who oppose Palestinian statehood on either security or religious grounds.

Previous administrations viewed the settlements as an obstacle to peace, and the Palestinians and much of the world consider them a violation of worldwide law.

Israel "continues to destroy the prospects of peace", said Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, who also criticised the UN, European Union and United States for not doing enough to punish Israel for continuing to expand settlements in the West Bank.

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