Outrage as Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years

On Thursday, Israel approved a new settlement in the West Bank, making it the first new Jewish town since 1993.

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.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said the move showed "blatant disregard for Palestinian human rights".

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.

The settlements are considered illegal under global law, although Israel disputes this.

The settlement is to be built for residents of the Amona enclave that was demolished last month following an Israeli Supreme Court ruling stating it was built on privately owned Palestinian land. Thursday's announcement said the new settlement would be built near the existing settlement of Shilo, which is nearby to the Amona site.

At the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu informed the cabinet that he meant to accommodate President Trump by not approving new settlements and by less expansion of existing settlements.

Trump has signaled a far more sympathetic approach to the settlements, raising hopes in Netanyahu's government that it will be able to step up construction.

In recent years, construction had focused instead on expanding existing settlements.

There was no immediate reaction from US President Donald Trump's administration, which is said to be in discussions with Israel on limiting the construction of settlements on Palestinian land.

It will be used to house some 40 families whose homes were cleared from an unauthorised settlement outpost.

The French Foreign Ministry said Israel's announcements were "extremely worrying", stressing that Paris "firmly condemns these decisions that threaten peace and risk exacerbating tensions on the ground".

Construction in Har Homa neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in December that demanded a halt to settlement building after the United States, Israel's ally, abstained from the vote. It also said the government had approved tenders to build 2,000 new apartments from previously approved settlement projects.

As a result, Jewish settlers and their supporters in the right-wing Israeli government are declaring victory, saying it is a historic day for Zionism and the state of Israel.

  • Leroy Wright