Construction begins on first new settlement for 25 years

Development to house residents of illegal Amona outpost, who were evicted earlier this year.


Construction work has begun on the first new settlement in the West Bank for 25 years.

News that the ground had been broken at the site was tweeted by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Situated north of Ramallah and close to Shiloh and Eli, the new settlement will be known as Amichai. It is the first to be built since the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993.

Homes will be built for residents of the illegal Amona outpost, which was evacuated in February after a court order found that it had been illegally built on private Palestinian land.

Announcing the development on social media, Mr Netanyahu tweeted: “Today, ground works began, as I promised, for the establishment of the new community for the residents of Amona.

“After decades, I have the privilege to be the prime minister who is building a new community in Judea and Samaria.”

The news comes a day before Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, arrives in the country to try to revive the peace process.

Earlier this year Mr Trump called on the Israeli premier to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” in an attempt to build bridges with the Palestinian people. But his words appear to have fallen on deaf ears as Mr Netanyahu yesterday told a meeting of his Likud party that “there was not and will not be a better government for settlement than our government”.

Prospective residents reacted to the news with caution. A statement from a group of Amona evacuees said: “The entire public expects from the prime minister not to allow any enemy element, whether leftist or judicial or bureaucratic, to stop the works.

“This success — the building of a new community in Judea and Samaria — cannot be allowed to turn into a failure and a farce.”

Jewish settlements in the West Bank are regarded as illegal under international law and are considered a major stumbling block for a future peace deal.

A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called the move “a grave escalation and an attempt to foil efforts by the American administration to revive negotiations”.

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