Netanyahu vows to move ahead on new settlement plan

Palestinians are furious after Israel announced that it will build the first new Jewish settlement in the West Bank in 20 years.

The unanimous vote will rehouse settlers from Amona - an outpost first declared illegal under Israeli law in 2006 - to an area called Emek Shilo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised to build a new colony for its residents after their eviction.

The United Nations, the PA, and anti-Israel NGO's wasted no time in condemning the move.

"The European Union reiterates that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under worldwide law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible", Mogherini said.

Israeli negotiators said last week they would take into account the Trump administration's "concerns" about settlement building.

The official added that the decision violates global legitimacy resolutions and worldwide law, especially the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 issued in December 2016, demanding Israel to halt its illegitimate settlement activities. President Trump had indicated he would be more sympathetic to settlements than predecessor Barack Obama and the global community, who consider them illegal.

The PMO also announced the approval of some 2,000 new settlement houses.

The prospect of a new settlement, ahead of its announcement, has angered Palestinians, who said it was an Israeli attempt to disrupt Trump's early efforts at reviving the peace process.

Sweden's U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog, a member of the Security Council, said on Friday that the 15-member Security Council should respond to the latest announcement by Israel on settlements. Avichai Boaron, the head of the Amona Committee, welcomed the measure but said: "The test will be...whether in fact houses are built and this decision takes shape or, God forbid, if it remains on paper only".

It comes despite US President Donald Trump asking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month to "hold back" on settlement construction. "We will keep it today". Israel cites biblical, historical and political links to the land, as well as security interests, to defend its actions.

The settlements are considered illegal under global law, though Israel disputes this. Another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem.

Peace Now said its location deep in the West Bank was "strategic for the fragmentation of the West Bank", which Palestinians see as the bulk of their future state.

According to media reports, some 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, an area where 2.8 million Palestinians are now living.

The White House official said that settlement, at Amona, was in the pipeline during Barack Obama's administration, and refrained from criticizing the decision.

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.

  • Leroy Wright