Jordan slams Israel's approval of new settlement, land grab

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first promised the new settlement at Emek Shilo in February, shortly before dozens of Israeli families were evicted from another West Bank settlement called Amona.

However, US President Donald Trump's administration refrained from criticising the new settlement, but warned that unchecked expansion could undermine peace efforts.

The US administration has said that it "understands" the Israeli cabinet's decision to build a new settlement in the occupied West Bank, the Times of Israel reported on Friday. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is disappointed and alarmed by the Israeli move, his spokesman said.

The Palestinians reacted angrily as what is widely seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history presses ahead with settlement expansion in defiance of global concern.

International human rights group Amnesty International also condemned the decision, saying "all settlement activity. constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime".

"He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution", United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Hardline education minister Naftali Bennett, who has been outspoken against any curbs to settlement construction, said Sunday that Netanyahu's position was "reasonable", adding that the proposed limitations "in theory sound good, but will be tested in actions". Netanyahu was determined to keep his promise to the Amona settlers and said that enough land to build 2000 homes in existing settlements has been granted. Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

The global community regards all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace.

A White House official said that President Trump has expressed his concerns regarding settlements and that the existence of settlements is not directly against peace but that it does not help to advance it.

In a related decision, Netanyahu told his ministers during a meeting on Thursday that some 900 dunams (222 acres) of Palestinian territory has been announced as "state land".

  • Leroy Wright