Jordan says new Israeli settlement in West Bank further undermines peace efforts

According to official figures, Israel has approved construction of more than 6,000 settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2017.

Israel's security cabinet gave its unanimous backing to the settlement on Thursday, as what is widely seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history presses ahead with settlement expansion in defiance of global concern.

Netanyahu said he was following through on a pledge he made a few weeks ago to 40 settler families who were evacuated from the illegal hilltop outpost of Amona. The Turkish Foreign Ministry described the move as "unacceptable" and said it violated Palestinians' rights, U.N. Security Council resolutions and the will of the global community.

The only blemish in President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's friendly press conference last month was their disagreement over Israeli settlements.

The European Union (EU)'stop diplomat, Federica Mogherini, also issued a statement reiterating that, "All settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory... are illegal under worldwide law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible".

Most countries view Israeli settlement activity in these areas as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Netanyahu's announcement Thursday was terse and straight to the point: "The Political-Security Cabinet unanimously approved this evening the establishment of a new settlement for the evacuees of Amona, in the Shilo Valley region".

Since then, Israel and the US have been in talks over what kind of construction the White House would tolerate. Nevertheless, the plans for a new settlement brought muted reaction from the White House.

The White House statement even went so far as to "welcome" what appears to be a limited Israeli commitment to take Trump's concerns about settlements into "consideration", without any guarantees to avoid similar announcements.

But Netanyahu also faces pressure from Trump to rein in settlement construction to help revive the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

However, his decision to back construction of the new outpost still came as a surprise following recent discussions with US President Donald Trump in which he agreed to "hold back" on settlement activity.

"I urge Israel not to take steps such as these, which move us away from our shared goal of peace and security and make it harder to achieve a different relationship between Israel and the Arab world", he said.

A new settlement would be the first built in the West Bank since 1999.

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

The nrg news site reported, based on interviews with Israeli officials, that they and American counterparts, including Jason Greenblatt, Trumps' envoy to for talks between Israelis and Palestinians on revolving the conflict, have worked out an understanding on settlement construction.

  • Carolyn Briggs