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Netanyahu indicates unprecedented construction plans for Trump presidency

Israeli right-wingers are eagerly anticipating Trump's presidency [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 December, 2016

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Binyamin Netanyahu gives his strongest indication yet that settlement construction will accelerate, as Israeli right-wingers anticipate Donald Trump's inauguration in January.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has given one of his strongest indications yet that illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank will continue apace, while speaking to a Likud Party faction meeting on Monday.

Netanyahu's words come amid a heightened sense of jubilation among right-wing Israeli politicians as US president-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office.

"We will continue to strengthen and develop settlements, and I want to make clear: There is not, nor will there be, a government that gives more support to settling and cares more about settling than this government we in the Likud lead," Netanyahu said. "This will continue."

Last week, the Israeli PM had said during a television broadcast that he was looking forward to working with Trump on a two-state solution. According to sources cited by The Jerusalem Post, however, neither Netanyahu nor Trump view illegal settlements as obstructing the peace process.
Trump's recent appointment of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel has further reinforced this view, with the envoy being a particular supporter of the settlements deemed contrary to international law.

"There is a unique window of opportunity now thanks to the changes in America, the weakening of Europe and the disintegration of the Muslim world," Bayit Yehudi leader and education minister Naftali Bennett told The Jerusalem Post.



Bennett, who hailed Trump's victory as a signifier that "the era of a Palestinian state is over", said that his party would demand Netanyahu gradually enforce Israeli sovereignty to Area C in the occupied West Bank while taking steps to "naturalise life" in the area under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

Sources in Likud and Bayit Yehudi said the settlement regulation bill - that would sanction some 4,000 homes built on privately owned Palestinian land - would not be brought to its final readings until after Trump takes office.

Under Obama, the US has emphasised that the continued building of settlements is harming the peace process, despite having taken little action to enforce this thinking. This policy line is widely expected to change under Trump.

"The ball is in the prime minister's court. It's a great opportunity after the Obama years. I expect him to build and build a lot. But then again, I think he should have built during Obama's term, too," said Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council.

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