Israel breaks ground on new West Bank settlement as United States delegations visits

Andrew Cummings
June 22, 2017

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, that are seen as a major obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jared Kushner's return to Israel this week ramps up White House efforts to broker a peace deal, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gauges what he needs to give Palestinians to bring ties with the broader Arab world out of the shadows, diplomats and Israeli government aides said.

Building starts on settler homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank soared by 70 per cent in the year to March 2017, data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed yesterday.

According to the White House official, Trump strongly believed that peace would be possible and its a top priority for him to achieve the last peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank are regarded as illegal under worldwide law and are considered one of the main obstacles to a two-state solution, taking land claimed by Palestinians for a future state.

While Israel has not launched new settlements in recent decades, extensive construction has focussed on expanding existing settlements.

White House officials played down expectations of a dramatic breakthrough during the visit, the New York Times reported.

"After decades, I have the honour to be the first prime minister to build a settlement in Judea and Samaria", Netanyahu said, calling the West Bank by its biblical name.

Netanyahu had vowed to build the settlement to replace Amona, a settlement outpost built on private Palestinian land that was dismantled in February following an Israeli Supreme Court ruling.

Netanyahu has billed the settlement as the first new one established from scratch in the West Bank in almost two decades.

Few Israelis can contemplate dividing Jerusalem, and nearly none would entertain Palestinian demands for allowing refugees and their descendants, who now number in the millions, the right to live in Israel.

On Monday the White House announced that Kushner as well as Jason Greenblatt, a top U.S. national security aide, would meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week.

But Israel has not built a fully fledged new settlement since the 1990s.

Mladenov quoted Netanyahu as saying that "there will never be a government that is more pro-settlement than our government".

"The internal deliveries of electricity to consumers inside the Gaza Strip is not the responsibility of the electric company and is done by internal Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip", it said.

Other reports by iNewsToday