Israel says will try to curb growth of settlement

The settlement activity may be a way for Netanyahu to gain support from far-right members of his coalition government.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also endorsed a two-state solution, telling summit participants this was the "only path to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can realise their national aspirations and live in peace, security and dignity".

"The United States delegation reiterated President Trump's concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement", the statement said.

The new colony will be built to accommodate Jewish settlers evacuated from the illegal (even under Israel law) settlement of Amona in February after a court order was issued.

Arab leaders meeting Wednesday at a summit in Jordan denounced "foreign interference" in their affairs, in reference to Iran, and called for the settlement of conflicts that are tearing the region apart.

"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", said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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

During his presidential campaign, he angered Arab leaders with a vow to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to contested Jerusalem and later suggested he was prepared to accept alternatives to a two-state solution.

Tel Aviv was closely monitoring the Summit proceedings and Cabinet minister Israel Katz said they are interested in "advancing initiatives to improve the conditions of the Palestinians" in the West Bank and Gaza as well as neutralizing shared security threats because a positive change in the regional climate "could lead in the future to peace".

The French Foreign Ministry separately said that Israel's settlement announcement was "extremely worrying" and that Paris "firmly condemns these decisions that threaten peace and risk exacerbating tensions on the ground". Since the February meeting with Netanyahu, US and Israeli officials have been working to reach a more formal understanding on slowing or curbing settlement construction.

It will be the first entirely new settlement that an Israeli government has approved since 1991, the anti-settlement NGO Peace Now said.

By last week, the proposed new settlement was on the agenda when Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, met with Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special representative for global negotiations, The Washington Post reported.

"He has been shifted more and more to the right since being re-elected".

More than 400,000 Israelis live in existing settlements considered illegal under global law.

The US appeared more accommodating to Israel's plans for the new settlement, as the White House refrained from criticising the approval.

The White House's statement didn't expressly criticize the Israeli government for approving settlements, though it did say the Israeli government told the White House it will adopt a policy on settlement building that "takes President Trump's concerns into consideration".

Netanyahu has been in discussions with the Trump administration on how to move ahead with further construction.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel will limit new settlement construction in the West Bank "when possible" to within areas already developed or at least to contiguous areas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government announced as a gesture to President Donald Trump as it approved the first new settlement in the territory in two decades.

  • Larry Hoffman