An Israeli panel approved plans on Tuesday for the first new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank in two decades, Israeli media reports said, drawing Palestinian condemnation and defying repeated international appeals to avoid such measures.
If confirmed, the plans, which media said also envisage the construction of some 1,800 other settler homes in the West Bank, are likely to deliver a further serious blow to efforts to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
A spokeswoman for the military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank of which the panel is a part declined to comment on the reports.
Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group that monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, could not immediately confirm the reports but said the panel was due to discuss further building plans for the occupied territory on Wednesday.
The reported move follows an Israeli government decision in March to build the new settlement, known as Amichai. It will house some 300 settlers evicted in February from another settlement called Amona.
Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the removal of the Amona settlers after ruling that their homes had been built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to re-house them at a new site in the West Bank.—Reuters