Israel broke ground on Tuesday on its first new settlement in the occupied West Bank for two decades, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, announcing the symbolic move on the eve of a peace mission by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.
“Work began today on-site, as I promised, to establish the new settlement,” Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter feed, which included a photograph of mechanical equipment digging into a rocky field.
He was referring to the construction of Amichai, which will house some 300 settlers evicted in February from the Amona outpost after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled their homes had been built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Netanyahu appeared to suggest he believed he had little to fear from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration over settlement building.
During a meeting at the White House in February, Trump asked Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit,” a request seen as part of an effort to build trust with the Palestinians ahead of a renewed push for peace.
The White House said on Sunday that Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, would arrive in Israel on Wednesday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.