Israel starts work on first new West Bank settlement in 20 years

Frederick Owens
June 27, 2017

Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he has the "privilege" of building the new settlement.

The Amichai settlement in the northern West Bank is earmarked for some 40 families evicted from the wildcat outpost of Amona in February under a high court order that ruled their homes had been built illegally on private Palestinian land.

On the campaign trail, Mr Trump indicated he would be far more sympathetic to settlements than Mr Obama. He appears to have backtracked since.

Israel is moving forward with plans for almost 4,000 housing units and has issued 2,000 tenders for settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, he added.

Today (Wednesday), US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt visited the home of Hadas Malka, who was murdered on Friday in a terror attack in Jerusalem.

On Monday, Israel's official bureau of statistics published a report revealing that the number of settlement homes Israel began to build in the occupied West Bank rose 70 percent over the past year.

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Israel says the status of settlements as well as other core issues, such as security, should be resolved in peace talks.

The Palestinians and the global community consider the settlements obstacles to Palestinian statehood.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters news agency that the ground-breaking was "a grave escalation and an attempt to foil efforts" by the administration of US President Donald Trump to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The global community considers all Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal but Israel draws a distinction between those it sanctions and those it does not - so-called outposts. The Kushner family has also always been close to Netanyahu, with the prime minister once sleeping on Kushner's childhood bed.

The settlements include those that Israel considers legal as well as at least 100 wildcat outposts.

Unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 272 Palestinians, 42 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP tally. Israel also cites biblical, historical and security interests to defend settlements.

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