Israel Approves the Construction of First Settlement in 20 years

But establishing a new settlement may be a way for Netanyahu to appease far-right members of his coalition government who are likely to object to any concessions to U.S. demands for restraints on building.

Israel's parliament approved a controversial bill on February 6 that legalised settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land, triggering global condemnation.

Netanyahu told ministers to take Trump's position "into consideration", calling for restraint to be shown "to allow progress in the peace process". But Israel has not built a full-fledged new settlement since the 1990s.

It was not immediately clear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had received a green light from the White House for Thursday's announcement.

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

A White House official noted that Mr Netanyahu had made a commitment to the Amona settlers before Mr Trump and the Israeli leader agreed to work on limiting settlement activity.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his "disappointment and alarm" at the decision to build a new settlement in occupied Palestinian territory.

The new settlement was already on track to be approved "before the President had a chance to lay out his expectations", said the official, who declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of peace talks.

Peace Now said the new settlement's 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. Israel disagrees, citing biblical and historical ties to the land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as well as security concerns.The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in December that demanded a halt to settlement building.

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".

Netanyahu said after the UN Security Council session that Israel would not be abiding by this resolution. New settlements - except for the one for Amona evictees - and new outposts will be banned.

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

Erekat, who is also secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said he holds Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his "extremist government fully responsible for the consequences of such violations".

Israel says the status of settlements as well as other issues, such as security, should be resolved in peace talks.

Israel's government approved on Thursday the building of the first new settlement in 20 years in West Bank - a move swiftly condemned as an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution.



Other news