Israeli cabinet approves new settlement, first in 2 decades

Posted April 02, 2017

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "disappointed and alarmed" about Israel's decision to authorize the first new government-approved settlement in more than two decades.

The prospect of a new settlement, ahead of its announcement, has angered Palestinians, who said it was an Israeli attempt to disrupt Trump's early efforts at reviving the peace process.

One official told the Times of Israel yesterday that "we would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations" that Israel reduce construction in settlements.

No agreement has been made but Netanyahu reportedly took the step himself to address Trump's concerns about increased settlement construction, which he last month called "not helpful" to peace efforts.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed. The United Nations, the PA, and anti-Israel NGO's wasted no time in condemning the move. Since the February meeting with Netanyahu, US and Israeli officials have been working to reach a more formal understanding on slowing or curbing settlement construction.

Palestinians and much of the global community consider all Israeli building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat also warned on Friday that the Palestinians would hold "Netanyahu and his extremist government fully responsible for the consequences of such violations".

The United Nations, the USA and European countries have warned that settlement expansion was rapidly endangering prospects for peace through a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2017. "This action means that Israel is turning its back to worldwide law, turning its back to the Security Council of the United Nations and turning its back to the so-called efforts about a new peace process", said Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti.

"The pressing crises should not make us forget our central and core issue- the Palestinian cause, and the global unanimity on the two states solution", said Ayman Al Safadi, Jordan Foreign Minister. "Israel will build within the existing developed area, as much as possible".

The group alleged that Netanyahu's new policy of settlement restraint contained loopholes that would enable the government to continue building if it wanted.

"Today's announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace", she said.

Netanyahu is expected to comply with the White House's wishes.

Some 330 right-wing Israeli settlers lived in Amona, which was the largest of the outposts built in the West Bank without official authorization.

Palestinians oppose the existence of Israeli settlements, seeing them an expansion of Israel into territory they hope will one day be part of a Palestinian state.

Construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

At the summit, Jordanian Foreign Minister Safadi said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a root cause of many Middle East conflicts.

The Palestinians and the global community consider the settlements obstacles to peace because they gobble up territory where the Palestinians seek to establish their state.