Netanyahu vows to move ahead on new settlement plan

AFP , Thursday 30 Mar 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem March 16, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Thursday to move ahead on a plan to create Israel's first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in more than 20 years despite international concern over the issue.

"I promised to create a new community and we are going to respect that commitment and create it today," Netanyahu said in a statement from his office ahead of an expected meeting of his security cabinet in the evening.

He said details would be released in the coming hours.

Netanyahu has said previously he intends to build a new settlement for residents of a wildcat Israeli outpost in the West Bank known as Amona, which was evacuated under court order in February.

An Israeli government-sanctioned settlement would be the first official new settlement in more than 20 years and would surely draw international criticism.

Construction in recent years has involved expanding existing settlements in the West Bank, with many countries warning it is gradually eating away at any chance of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has been in discussions with US President Donald Trump's administration on how to move ahead with settlement building.

Trump, while pledging unstinting support for Israel, has also called on Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a little bit" while his administrations looks for ways to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. 

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