ILLEGAL: The settlement of Maaleh Adumim looms over Arab Bedouin shacks in the West Bank.
ILLEGAL: The settlement of Maaleh Adumim looms over Arab Bedouin shacks in the West Bank. Mahmoud Illean

Israeli settlers unsettle peace

ISRAEL has approved the building of 2500 new West Bank settlement homes, signalling a bold new policy approach now Donald Trump has taken office.

The Defence Ministry's announcement followed Sunday's decision to grant building permits for 566 new Jewish settler homes in East Jerusalem.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation demanded international action on the major expansions, saying the Israeli moves were a result of "encouragement by American President Donald Trump”.

Israeli building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the 1967 Green Line is illegal under international law.

The East Jerusalem settler homes had been delayed until Barack Obama - who was critical of settlement-building - left office, officials said.

The Trump administration has struck a much more sympathetic tone towards Israel than its predecessor.

Mr Trump's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is strongly pro-settlements.

Since the 1970s, Israel has encouraged large numbers of Jews to move onto occupied land.

The West Bank settler population is now 550,000.

Settlement building, which has increased under the right- wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is viewed as one of the major stumbling blocks to a lasting peace in the long-running and apparently irreconcilable Israeli- Palestinian conflict.- INM


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