Reports have emerged today that Israel has approved a new policy to curb settlement construction, after senior Knesset Members from the Israeli government’s security cabinet voted unanimously on Thursday to establish a new West Bank settlement for the families evicted from the razed Amona settlement outpost.
The new town, which will be located near the West Bank settlements of Shiloh and Eli, is the first government-approved settlement in over 20 years. It is still yet to be approved by the full cabinet.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office also announced the approval for the construction of some 2,000 new settlement homes – housing units whose planned construction was first announced in January.
The announcement comes amid negotiations with the US over settlement building.
It has emerged that on Thursday evening, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told members of the security cabinet that Israel will curb construction in West Bank settlements as a goodwill gesture to US President Donald Trump. Netanyahu said that in addition, Israel will also prevent the construction of any new illegal outposts.
Haaretz reports Netanyahu as stating to the security cabinet: “This is a very friendly administration and we need to be considerate of the President’s requests”.
A White House official said after the announcement that talks between Israel and the US on limiting settlement construction were ongoing, stating that Israel had agreed to a adopt a new policy of restrained settlement construction that takes US President Donald Trump’s “concerns into consideration”.
The official indicated that Israel’s Amona decision may have remained outside those discussions: “With regards to the new settlement for Amona residents, we would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations, and has consistently indicated that he intended to move forward with this plan”.
Israel stopped establishing new settlements in the early 1990s after the 1993 Oslo Accords, however outposts have been set up since without authorisation then given retroactive approval.
In February, hundreds of Israeli police officers entered the West Bank settlement outpost of Amona following a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court that said the homes were built on private Palestinian land, and evicted 50 families from their homes before destroying the outpost.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier promised the Amona residents that he had a personal commitment to re-housing them.