Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has announced the beginning of building work on the first new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank in 25 years, a day before a visit by Donald Trump’s son-in-law and envoy, Jared Kushner, aimed at reinvigorating the stalled peace process.
The new settlement, known as Amichai, is being built to house about 300 hardline residents of the illegal West Bank Jewish outpost of Amona who were evicted by police in February after a court ruled their houses were on privately owned Palestinian land.
The timing of the announcement was condemned by a Palestinian official who suggested it was designed to undermine peace efforts.
Announcing the beginning of ground-breaking work at the new settlement, Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter feed: “Work began today on-site, as I promised, to establish the new settlement,” with a photograph of a mechanical digger working at the site north of Ramallah:
The construction work comes despite a request by Trump at a meeting between the two men in Washington this year to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” – a comment seen as part of an effort to build trust with the Palestinians, but greeted by many with deep scepticism.
Netanyahu said: “After decades, I have the privilege to be the prime minister who is building a new community in Judea and Samaria [the Israeli name for the occupied Palestinian territories].”
Amichai will be the first entirely new state-approved settlement constructed in the Palestinian territories since the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accords were signed in 1993, although illegal outposts have been constructed in that period and other…