Israel has announced plans for 3,000 more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank. The Defence Ministry says the move is aimed at fulfilling demand for housing and to “return to life as usual”.
It is the third such declaration in the week and a half since President Trump took office – indicating that the US is likely to be far softer on such projects than it was under Barack Obama.
The announcement came as preparations began for the eviction of more than 300 settlers from the Amona outpost in the West Bank, following a ruling from the Supreme Court ordering its evacuation by February 8 because it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet earlier this week that a bill would go before parliament to legalise dozens of outposts and districts in existing settlements built on private Palestinian land.
Late last year when Obama was still in office, the US abstained when the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Israel stop building on occupied Palestinian territory.
Most countries consider such settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace.
Donald Trump, who had called for the US to veto the UN measure, is due to discuss the settlements when he meets the Israeli prime minister in Washington on February 15.