United Nations chief alarmed at Israel's decision to build new settlement

01 April, 2017, 01:49 | Author: Essie Rivera

Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi condemned the new settlement approval and called for worldwide intervention.

Since then, it has authorised 6,000 new settlement homes, in one of the biggest surges for years.

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. The settlement issue, said Netanyahu afterwards, was a point where the two governments did not yet see "eye to eye".

A White House official on Thursday said Israel's decision to approve a new West Bank settlement did not amount to defiance of the President's request for a pause in settlement activity, rather it was "already in the queue".

"I promised at the outset that we would build a new community", Netanyahu said on Thursday.

Trump's Israeli ambassador, lawyer David Friedman, is a fervent supporter of settlement-building and has voiced skepticism of a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict in the region.

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

During the Obama administration, Israeli settlement building was a sore point of contention.

The official said the President's previous concerns about settlement activity being unhelpful to the peace process "remain the same".

Some Israeli analysts have speculated that the move could be a one-off gesture meant to appease advocates for settlements before Netanyahu acquiesces to the Trump administration's call for restraint as part of its push to revive long-stalled peace talks.

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"Israel enjoys a culture of impunity that allows it to strengthen its apartheid regime in Occupied Palestine", Erekat said.

"Peace is not going to be achieved by tolerating such crimes", he said.

Around 600,000 Israelis live in more than 200 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel has not established a completely new settlement since the early 1990s, though existing settlements have expanded and once illegal outposts have been retroactively recognized.

The White House appeared more accommodating to Israel's plans for the new settlement, intended for some 40 families evicted from Amona, a West Bank outpost razed in February because it was built on private Palestinian land.

The new settlement approval was sharply criticized by Palestinians.

But since Donald Trump took office in January, settler leaders have been emboldened by his far less critical stance and Israel has since announced more than 5,500 new homes in existing settlements. He said the Palestinian president will take the issue to U.N. Security Council.

Settler leaders hailed Israel's decision to establish a new settlement, but expressed concern that the government had not set a timetable for the beginning of construction.

Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy for the umbrella body representing settlers, welcomed the decision. "Regretfully, the Left wing commentators are correct".

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