Israel approves construction of 3000 new housing units in West Bank

Political sources say Netanyahu had privately opposed the bill, which won preliminary parliamentary approval in November amid global denunciations and speculation in Israel that it would subsequently die a quiet death in committee hearings. "They're going to remove innocent people from their home", the Knesset member, who personally witnessed the evacuation of about 250 Israelis, told local news portal Ynet.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the media after viewing the weapons cache discovered at a factory in the West Bank city of Hebron, Jan. 10, 2017.

It would be the first new official settlement in about 25 years. Some chained themselves to heavy objects and locked their doors.

"Thanks to the fight for Amona, thousands of families have been saved from having their homes raised", he was quoted as saying.

These outposts were erected by ultra-right settlers without permits from the Israeli authorities but the governments often have turned a blind eye to their construction.

The fate of Amona has threatened to destabilize Netanyahu's narrow coalition that includes the pro-settler party Jewish Home and other hardliners.

The outpost, built in the 1990s, stretches out over a rugged, grassy hilltop and looks out across the valley onto Palestinian villages. The bill is due to come up for a final parliamentary vote February 6.

Last January, the Israeli government requested that the Supreme Court grant a final extension of its original deadline, which was December 25, 2016. "There is a great pain, a huge disappointment".

The bill is backed by Israel's right-wing government but has alarmed the worldwide community and supporters of an independent Palestinian state. "It is a bad thing", he told Channel 2 TV.

Netanyahu's announcement came after Israel's Supreme Court late Wednesday struck down a plan agreed by settler leaders to move some families from the evacuated Amona site to a nearby settlement, and others to an adjacent plot of land.

The Palestinians want the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war, as part of their hoped-for state.

It is the third such announcement since the inauguration 12 days ago of US President Donald Trump, who has hinted he will be more sympathetic to settlement construction than his predecessor.

"A negotiated two-state solution is the only way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties and to achieve enduring peace", she said.

  • Tracy Ferguson