Israeli PM limits settlements while announcing new one

"I promised to create a new community and we are going to respect that commitment and create it today", he said in a statement before the security cabinet meeting. "We will keep it today. In a few hours, you will know all the details".

Meanwhile, Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich, who lives in a Jewish community in the West Bank, accused the government of enacting a settlement freeze.

Israeli media on Friday reported that Netanyahu, facing pressures pulling him in different directions, announced the new slowdown policy at a meeting the night before, where his cabinet also approved the first West Bank settlement in two decades as compensation for the Amona outpost demolished in February.

Israel and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump are in discussions on limiting the construction of settlements, which are built on land Palestinians seek for a state.

Much of the global community views Israeli settlements as illegal. Israel cites biblical, historical and political links to the land, as well as security interests, to defend its actions.

"In light of the decisions and despite specific limitations, the understandings reached between the Israeli government and the USA government will enable the continuation of settlement construction in all settlements in Judea and Samaria, and also the establishment of the new settlement for the residents of Amona", a statement issued by the council read.

When Netanyahu visited the White house in February, Trump said he would like to see Israel "hold back on settlements a little bit".

It comes after Netanyahu announced the creation of Israel's first new settlement for two decades Thursday.

Trump has dispatched his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to the region in recent weeks to meet with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to revive the peace process.

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

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. Another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem.

Settlements in land Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War are considered illegal by most of the global community and an obstacle to restarting peace talks as they are built on land Palestinians claim for a future state.

The decision came one week after the United Nations (UN) criticized Israel for not taking any measures to halt the building of settlements in occupied Palestine. It appeared he was also compelled, however, to demonstrate paying heed to White House concerns that settlement building could pose an obstacle to a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

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

The security cabinet gave its unanimous backing to the new settlement late yesterday as what is widely seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history presses ahead with settlement expansion in defiance of worldwide concern.

The Security Cabinet on Thursday also advanced plans to construct 2,000 homes inside existing settlements.

  • Leroy Wright