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“The eviction and the exercise of force is another indication that Israel is defying the international consensus on the need to vacate occupied Palestinian land,” Palestinian government spokesman Nour Odeh said.
For years, Israel froze building in E1, which currently houses only a police headquarters, after coming under pressure from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Netanyahu said Israel would build at E1 after the planning process was completed.
“It is a gradual process, it will take time. It will not happen immediately, you understand our bureaucratic process … We will complete the planning an there will be building there,” he told Army Radio.
Israel announced plans to expand settlements, mainly in West Bank areas around Jerusalem, after the Palestinians won de-facto recognition of statehood at the U.N. General Assembly in November.
International powers view all Jewish settlement building in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War as detrimental to securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
E1 covers 4.6 square miles (12 square km) and is seen as particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow “waist” of the West Bank, but backs onto East Jerusalem.
Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, dominated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, and the Gaza Strip, run by the rival Islamist group Hamas, with East Jerusalem as the capital.
About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 over the issue of Israel’s continued settlement building.