Israel approves largest West Bank settlements in 25 years

Moscow [Russia], June. 12 : Israel has approved over 8,000 news settlements in the West Bank, thus making it the largest expansion of Jewish homes in the area in 25 years.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said "Plans for 8,345 new housing units have been approved by the Israeli authorities so far this year, " Out of these, 3,066 have been given final approval and will soon be built.

What we've approved on June 6 and 7 is the maximum that can be approved," Russia Today reported. The minister noted that "What we've approved on June 6 and 7 is the maximum that can be approved." This time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the largest number of settlements since 1992, in defiance of requests by the United States.

Praising Netanyahu's government for its aggressive stance on expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the defence minister said "the numbers for the first half of 2017 are the highest since 1992." This is the most controversial step by Israel as the construction of settlements in the region is considered illegal under international law.The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014, mainly over the expansion of the settlements.

President Donald Trump met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the second leg of his first foreign trip as president, pressing forward with his bid to advance the peace process.Trump said he was "truly hopeful" that his administration could broker a peace agreement and called his meetings with Arab leaders in the region "deeply productive." However, according to Lieberman, pushing for more would "stretch the rope beyond its limit, and thus put the entire settlement enterprise at risk." Nearly 400,000 Jewish settlers are estimated to be living in the West Bank along with 2.8 million Palestinians.

Another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, an area claimed by Palestinians. Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war and has since been controlling them despite wide condemnation.

Source: ANI