Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years

Palestinian officials and the United Nations on Friday condemned the Israeli government's approval of a new settlement in the occupied West Bank for the first time in more than 25 years.

Israeli security cabinet unanimously approved the establishment of a new settlement Thursday night to house settlers evacuated from the illegal outpost of Amona in February.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first promised the new settlement at Emek Shilo in February, shortly before dozens of Israeli families were evicted from another West Bank settlement called Amona.

"Going forward, and as we move into more detailed discussions regarding the possibilities for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Israeli government has made clear that Israel's intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes President Trump's concerns into consideration", the USA official added.

Trump's public request to hold off on settlements came during a meeting between the two leaders at the White House last month, after a series of moves by the Israeli leader to approve thousands of new housing units in the occupied West Bank.

Worldwide law considers the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be "occupied territories" captured by Israel in 1967, deeming all construction of Jewish settlements on the land to be illegal.

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The global community regards all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace. It also said the government had approved tenders to build 2,000 new apartments from previously approved settlement projects.

And while his administration has appeared to be more tolerant of Israeli settlement activity, Trump did make clear last month, at their joint press conference, that he wanted Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a bit".

Most countries view Israeli settlement activity in these areas as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the new settlement threatens "to further undermine prospects for a viable two-state solution".

Trump, who is seen as sympathetic to Israel, has publicly voiced his concerns about settlements but has done little to condemn new outposts.

This is the first time in 20 years that Israel has made a decision to establish a new settlement, according to Haaretz.

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Their houses were razed after Israel's Supreme Court said they were built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land.

The negotiations between Palestine and Israel have been deadlocked for years due to the growth of settlements; Abbas said that he is not willing to proceed with negotiations as long as Israel expands its settlements in Palestinian territories.

"Peace is not going to be achieved by tolerating such crimes", he said.

Another senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to brief media on the issue, said Palestinian policy now is to maintain relations and avoid confrontation over the issue with the Trump administration ahead of a visit to the White House by President Mahmoud Abbas in April.

Construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

In this image released by the United Nations, members of the Security Council vote on December 23, 2016 on a resolution against Israeli settlements.

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The security cabinet said it would limit future building - where possible - to the built-up areas within existing settlements.

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