USA 'understands' Israeli decision to build new settlement in occupied West Bank

Israel's government approves its first new West Bank settlement in two decades Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) 31 mars 2017 Such settlements, in territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, are deemed illegal by most of the world.

The government on Saturday condemned the Israeli Cabinet's endorsement of a plan to build a new settlement in the West Bank following the seizing of 977 dunums of Palestinian land. The official continued to say that the "will continue to work with Israelis and Palestinians, and other players in the region, to create a climate that is conducive to peace".

In a statement on Friday, Trump's administration refrained from criticising Israel's move, saying that "while the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace".

Al Jazeera's Khan said the cabinet's decision came as Netanyahu faced growing pressure in the Knesset and the threat of early elections. "Our position on Jerusalem as future capital of both states has not changed and we support Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem, both in political and financial terms".

The settlement noted also that settlement activities are illegal under global law and present an obstacle to peace.

The Israeli government also voted for the expropriation of 222 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

"He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, which threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution".

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 worldwide concern.

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. Such Israeli settlements have expanded in recent years. However, if legal, security or topographical limitations do not allow adherence to those guidelines, new homes will be built outside the current settlement boundaries but as close as possible to them.

"(Netanyahu) is not calling the agenda, he is chasing the agenda", Bergman told AFP.

A White House official sought to play down Thursday's Israeli announcement, saying Netanyahu made his promise to the Amona settlers before Trump laid out his vision.

The former U.S. administration of Barack Obama was deeply opposed to Israel's expansion of the settlements and, in December, withheld its veto from a UN Security Council resolution condemning the policy.

Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel would continue increasing the number of housing units of existing West Bank settlements, projects approved prior to the start of the Trump administration.

  • Leroy Wright