Israel announces plans for 3,000 settlement homes
Israel has pushed through plans for the building of thousands more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank this week, the first such announcement since US President Donald Trump urged a freeze on construction in February.
The plans for more than 3,000 settler homes were advanced by an Israeli defence ministry committee, The Associated Press reported, and are all in various stages of the final approval process.
The move, which was first presented on Tuesday, includes 102 housing units in the new settlement of Amichai, the first new Israeli government-sanctioned settlement in 25 years.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had pledged to build a new settlement for around 40 families from the hard-line Jewish outpost of Amona, which was evacuated under a court order in February.
Israeli NGO Peace Now said the new settlement plans prove that "a two state solution is not on (Netanyahu's) agenda".
"By promoting the establishment of the first new settlement in 25 years - as well as thousands of additional settlement units - Netanyahu's actions speak louder than his empty words on peace," the group said.
The Israeli prime minister's office has not commented on the announcement, and it is unclear whether Israel cleared the move with Washington beforehand.
At a joint press conference in February, Trump publicly told Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a little bit" as Washington attempted to renew peace talks.
Earlier that month, Israel had announced the construction of 3,000 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the fourth such announcement in the less than two weeks since Trump's inauguration.
Some 500,000 Jewish settlers live in more than 196 settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Settlements have grown for decades under every Israeli government, but the settler movement is particularly powerful in the current right-wing coalition led by Netanyahu.
All Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law.