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Israel begins work on first new settlement in 25 years

28 June, 2017, 07:34 | Author: Mae Harvey
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister Office in Jerusalem

Israel's prime minister says ground has been broken for a new West Bank settlement, the first in about two decades, to replace one demolished this year as President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy arrives in the region.

The move comes a day after the White House said that President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner would travel to Israel this week to spearhead Trump's effort to negotiate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"As I promised, today the work on the ground began to establish the new settlement for the settlers of Amona".

Mr 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.

Peace Now, a settlement watchdog group, has said that the rise in construction in the West Bank correlates to a drop in new buildings within Israel of 2.5%.

Amichai is the first settlement that Israel has built since it signed the Oslo peace agreement with the Palestinians in 1993.

A picture taken on June 19, 2017 shows the Israeli settlement of Hashmonaim, west of Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

According to Peace Now, the new settlement's location was "strategic for the fragmentation of the West Bank".

Peace Now said Monday that new figures from the Israeli government showed a 70 percent rise in settlement construction over the previous year.

Kushner, a 36-year-old real estate developer with little experience of global diplomacy or political negotiation, arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning and will spend barely 20 hours on the ground - he leaves shortly after midnight.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Kushner and Greenblatt will hear from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials during the trip.

Settlements are seen as illegal under worldwide law and are major stumbling blocks to a solution as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state in a two-state settlement.

Yesterday, Israel supplied 120 megawatts of electricity to Gaza a month, which made up about one quarter of the enclave's needs, with the PA paying the 11.3 million euros ($12.65 million) monthly bill.

Days of Palestine reports that the reduction of power to the Gaza Strip has caused a "total collapse" in all the service sectors across the tiny coastal enclave, which has been under strict Israeli siege for 11 years.

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