Guardian - Israel has announced plans to build 3,000 new homes in West Bank settlements, pressing forward with a construction binge that began after the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president.
The announcement comes as Israel prepares to uproot an illegal settlement outpost in the West Bank. It appears to be aimed at calming settler anger over the impending court-ordered evacuation of the Amona outpost, which was built two decades ago on private Palestinian land. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition is dominated by settlers and their allies.
In a late-night statement on Tuesday, Israel’s defense ministry said the latest construction was approved by the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. It comes days after the government approved an additional 2,500 homes in the West Bank and hundreds more in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians claim both areas, occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, as parts of a future state.
The international community considers settlements illegal. But Trump has signaled that he will abandon the policies of his predecessors and be far friendlier toward settlements. He has appointed a prominent US supporter of the settlements to be his ambassador to Israel, and a delegation of settler leaders was invited to his inauguration.
This has emboldened Netanyahu, who repeatedly clashed with President Barack Obama over settlements, to announce a series of construction plans over the past week and a half. The Trump White House has remained silent, a dramatic departure from the vocal condemnations issued by Obama.
"We are in a new period in which life in Judea and Samaria [the term Israel uses to refer to the West Bank] is back on track,” Lieberman said in a statement.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on 15 February, and the two men are expected to seek understandings on Israeli construction plans for the West Bank.
Israeli settlers angry as government prepares to evict outpost
The announcement followed a military order, dated Monday, for residents of Amona to evacuate the area within 48 hours. Israeli media said residents could be removed as early as Wednesday morning.