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Take advantage of Trump win, expand settlements: ex-Israeli minister

Trump has vowed not to impose any solutions on Israel [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 November, 2016

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Former high-ranking Likud minister, Gideon Sa'ar, said Israel should take advantage of Donald Trump’s election and expand settlement construction in Palestinian territories.
A former Likud minister called on the Israeli government to take advantage of the election of Donald Trump and expand settlement construction in the Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Times of Israel reported on Friday.

Gideon Sa'ar, a former interior and education minister, said via Twitter on Thursday that Tel Aviv must developed a construction plan he dubbed "Jerusalem Now".

Sa'ar – who retired from politics in 2014 – said the plan should include wide-scale settlement construction in the neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and in the E1 corridor near the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, illegal under international law.

"In past years, diplomatic pressure led to a lack of building in Jerusalem. There will be less pressure from Trump, so we should be building much more in our capital," the newspaper quoted Sa'ar as saying.

Sa'ar reiterated a pledge by Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital and move the US embassy there if he is elected president.

"Unlike before, this will be a chance to move the US embassy to Jerusalem," Sa'ar tweeted. 

Under president Barack Obama, the US administration clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over Israeli plans to build settlements inside occupied Palestinian territories.

The US said the move jeopardised prospects of peace with Palestinians. However, the US continued to give aid to Israel and took no concrete action to pressure Tel Aviv on the issue.

Last month, Trump's adviser on Israel said that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank were not illegal and he believed the president-elect agreed with him, putting them at odds with much of the world.

Trump has vowed not to impose any solutions on Israel and promised to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.

Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 in a move the international community considers illegal.

More than 400,000 Israelis, many of whom are armed, now live in West Bank settlements, despite continuous condemnation from global powers who see settlement building as one of the largest obstacles to peace with the Palestinians.

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