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Israel Begins Work on First New Settlement in 20 Years

Israel has served up plans for thousands of homes across the West Bank in the first announcement of settlement construction since President Donald Trump urged a building freeze in February.Jared Kushner, a chief adviser to President Donald Trump, is arriving in Israel on Wednesday to embark on a quest for elusive Middle East peace.Earlier in the day, Netanyahu tweeted over a picture of a small bulldozer and a digger working on a rocky hill overlooking a vineyard.”After 20 years I have the privilege to be the Prime Minister who build a new settlement in Judea and Samaria”, Netanyahu wrote.But the official said any peace deal “will take time” and likely require “many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt” to the region.Netanyahu had vowed to compensate the residents of Amona with a new settlement, built on a nearby site in the northern West Bank. Most of the world considers settlements built on occupied land illegal under global law, a position Israel disputes.Amichai will be the first entirely new state-approved settlement constructed in the Palestinian territories since the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accords were signed in 1993, although illegal outposts have been constructed in that period and other settlements have expanded.The Palestinians claim the West Bank, territory captured by Israel in 1967, as part of a future state, a demand that has wide support.The land is surrounded by a number of other small settlements and is a few kilometres from the Palestinian village of Duma, where a Palestinian family were burned alive by radical settlers in 2015.Kushner, a 36-year-old real estate developer with little experience of worldwide diplomacy or political negotiation, arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning and will spend barely 20 hours on the ground – he leaves shortly after midnight.The Gaza Strip is home to some two million people, more than three-quarters of whom the United Nations says depend on humanitarian aid.For at least two decades, the goal of USA -led diplomacy has been a “two-state solution”, meaning an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side and at peace with Israel. Israel identified majority as attackers.Israel is moving forward with plans for almost 4,000 housing units and has issued 2,000 tenders for settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, he added. Israel disputes that, citing biblical, historical and political links to the West Bank, as well as security interests.