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Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years, flayed

Friday March 31, 2017 11:18 PM, IINA


Jerusalem/New York:
Israel's security cabinet approved construction of the first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in two decades, Middle East Eye reported.

Thursday's unanimous vote in favor of the new settlement in an area Israelis call Emek Shilo came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters earlier: "I made a promise that we would establish a new settlement ... We will keep it today."

Palestinian officials swiftly condemned the move.

"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," said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

There was no immediate reaction from US President Donald Trump's administration, which is said to be in discussions with Israel on limiting the construction of settlements on Palestinian land. But, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned Israel's decision to build the first new government-sanction settlement in 25 years, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

The statement said that Guterres "took notice with disappointment and alarm" at the decision by Israel "to build a new settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory."

"The Secretary-General has consistently stressed that there is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution," the statement read.

"Settlement activities are illegal under international law and present an obstacle to peace," it added.

Such settlements, in territory that Israel captured in 1967, are deemed illegal by international law.

Netanyahu first promised the new settlement at Emek Shilo in February, shortly before Israeli settlers were removed from another West Bank settlement called Amona.

A new settlement would be the first built in the West Bank since 1999. About 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, which is also home to 2.8 million Palestinians. Another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution in December 2016 denouncing settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal.

A UN-commissioned report concluded earlier this month that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, including the settlement regime in the West Bank, amount to apartheid. The study was removed from the UN’s website after pressure from the United States and Israel.


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