Israel’s so-called security cabinet has unanimously voted in favor of construction of the regime’s first new settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories in 25 years, drawing strong condemnation from Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement on Thursday night, announcing that the new settlement will be built near the West Bank settlement of Emek Shilo and the Palestinian city of Ramallah, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The Israeli ministers also approved the construction of 2,000 settler homes out of the 5,700 units announced two months ago, and endorsed the expropriation of 90 hectares (222 acres) of Palestinian land near the Israeli settlement of Eli north of Ramallah.
The move was swiftly condemned by Palestinian officials, with Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, saying the “announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace."
Earlier in the day, the Israeli prime minister said the new settlement was intended to house the residents of Amona, a wildcat outpost in the occupied West Bank that was evacuated under a court order in February.
The latest expansionist measures, which are in violation of last year's UN Security Council Resolution 2334, come as the Tel Aviv regime has been holding negotiations with the administration of US President Donald Trump on new settlement building plans.
Yoav Horowitz, Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and Jason Greenblatt, who heads the US team, have been leading the talks on settlement guidelines over the past three weeks, according to Israeli media reports.
Figures released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics showed last week that 2,630 settlement units were constructed in the West Bank last year, marking a rise of 40 percent from 2015.
The figures were released only a day after Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with building new settler units, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime has no plan to limit settlement construction in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The UN resolution passed in December calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
Since the January inauguration of Trump, the Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its construction of settler units on occupied Palestinian land in a blatant violation of international law.