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US ‘understands’ Israeli decision to build new settlement in occupied West Bank

April 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm

The illegal Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem, seen on December 29, 2016 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]

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. The new colony will be built to accommodate Jewish settlers evacuated from the illegal (even under Israel law) settlement of Amona in February after a court order was issued.

Even though all settlements are illegal under international law, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the settlers from Amona that he would build them a new settlement. This promise, said an American official, was made before Donald Trump set out his expectations about Israeli settlements, the implication being that in this case Netanyahu is not challenging Trump’s call for restraint.

“The president has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements,” he added.

As the administration has made clear, while the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace.

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”. This is the Israeli euphemism for “has been confiscated”. The land in question is near the illegal settlements of Eli, Givat Haroeh and Adei, said the Times of Israel, which noted that that it would be used for building more settlement housing units.

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Netanyahu also announced that almost 2,000 settlement units out of over 6,000 announced in January and February in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have been approved. Tenders for building the units were announced by the Israel Land Authority on Thursday. Of these, 698 will be built in Alfei Menashe, 630 are for Beit Arye, 612 for Beitar Illit and 54 for Karnei Shomron.