Israel breaks ground on first new settlement in decades

Construction beginning in the West Bank on the new Israeli settlement Amichai meant for the evacuees of the Amona outpost, June 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Construction beginning in the West Bank on the new Israeli settlement Amichai meant for the evacuees of the Amona outpost, June 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

(JTA) – Israel broke ground on a new West Bank settlement – its first in more than two decades – to house the evacuated residents of an illegal outpost.

Preliminary work began this week on Amichai, meaning “my nation lives,” for the residents of Amona, who were forced to leave in February. Some 100 housing units are planned. [Read more…]

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Abbas reportedly ready to suspend settlement freeze demand to restart peace talks

President Donald Trump shaking hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint news conference in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, May 23, 2017. (Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint news conference in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, May 23, 2017. (Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

(JTA) – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to suspend his demand that Israel freeze West Bank settlement construction as a condition for restarting peace talks, a top adviser said.

Abbas also is willing to mute his campaign to prosecute Israeli officials for war crimes and to single Israel out for condemnation at the United Nations, Mohammad Mustafa, a senior economic adviser to Abbas and a former PA deputy prime minister, told Bloomberg on Wednesday in an interview in Ramallah on Monday, that  was published on Thursday. [Read more…]

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Peace Now reports 34 per cent increase in new West Bank housing

(JTA) – Construction starts in the West Bank grew by a third in 2016 over the same period in the previous year, according to a new report.

Peace Now’s annual construction report, which was released Sunday, showed 1,814 new housing units began construction, an increase of 34 per cent over 2015. Among the new building, according to the report, 70 per cent was in settlements east of the proposed Geneva Initiative border, or settlements that are likely to be emptied in a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Over 26 per cent, or 474 housing units, of the new construction was in areas that are east of the route of the security barrier.  [Read more…]

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Israel reportedly postpones meeting to approve new settlement building until after Trump visit

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A settlement planning committee postponed a meeting to approve building projects until after U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel following a request from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee moved the meeting to June from this week, Haaretz reported, citing an unnamed senior government official. Trump is scheduled to visit Israel May 21-22. [Read more…]

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Report: U.S.-Israel talks on settlements suspended after no progress made

(JTA) – Negotiations between Israel and the United States on limiting building in the settlements reportedly has been suspended after representatives of the two countries failed to reach an agreement.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s international envoy and an Orthodox Jew, has travelled in recent weeks to the Middle East for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. [Read more…]

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Netanyahu pledges to limit Israeli settlement expansion as gesture to Trump

(JTA) – Israel will curb settlement construction as a gesture to U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his top ministers.

In a security cabinet meeting Thursday night, Netanyahu said any future construction would be limited to existing settlement boundaries or adjacent to them. Israel will also prevent the construction of any new illegal outposts, he said. [Read more…]

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U.S. understands construction of new Israeli settlement, White House official says

(JTA) – White House officials appeared to show understanding of the Israeli government’s decision to build a new settlement in the West Bank for the first time in 20 years, despite condemnations at the United Nations and by the Palestinians of the move.

One official told the Times of Israel yesterday that “we would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations” that Israel reduce construction in settlements. The official spoke on condition of anonymity. [Read more…]

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