Israel approves first West Bank settlement in over 20 years

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Israel's security cabinet unanimously approved on Thursday construction of the first official West Bank settlement in over 20 years, continuing a process that many in the international community consider illegal. The new settlement is to be near the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

The decision comes after the demolition of Amona, another West Bank settlement, which president Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to replace. Israel's high court found the settlement was illegally built on land under private Palestinian ownership.

"I had promised from the start that I would create a new settlement. It seems to me that I made that commitment in December and I will keep it today," President Netanyahu told reporters on Thursday.

The international community considers Israeli West Bank settlements illegal and, generally, undermining peace between Israel and Palestine. Outgoing US president Barack Obama used his final interview to criticise Israel's West Bank policy.

"Today's announcement," said Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, "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."

Over half a million Israelis live in settlements on the West Bank and in the eastern parts of Jerusalem. Israel cites security needs and religious connection to the land as justifications for construction on the West Bank.