A general view of housing in the Israeli settlement of Revava, near the West Bank city of Nablus. AP/Press Association Images
West Bank

Israel announces 2,500 settler homes following Trump 'encouragement'

It may be the largest number to have been given the green light since 2013.

ISRAEL HAS APPROVED 2,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, officials said, marking a major settlement expansion following the election of US President Donald Trump.

The planned new homes approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman may be the largest number to have been given the green light since 2013, said settlement watchdog Peace Now.

Settlements in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians want for their own state.

The Israeli defence ministry announced the plans in a statement, saying most of the homes would be located within large settlement blocks in the West Bank.

Around 100 are to be located in the settlement of Beit El near Ramallah, it said.

Trump, his nominee for ambassador to Israel David Friedman and the parents of his son-in-law Jared Kushner have all reportedly contributed financially to Beit El.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Friedman has been president of a group called American Friends of Beit El Institutions. It said the group raises about $2 million a year for Beit El.

‘Encouragement’ by Trump

Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat said Israel must face international action over settlement expansion.

“The international community must hold Israel accountable immediately for what it is doing,” Erekat told AFP.

He added that Israel had been emboldened by “what they consider encouragement by American President Donald Trump.”

Trump has signalled strong support for Israel, and Israeli right-wing politicians have sought to take advantage, with hardliners calling for an end to the idea of a Palestinian state.

© – AFP 2017

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