NY Times: Israel’s New Settlements Plan ‘Disregards International Condemnation’

Washington, The Israeli government’s announcement that 2,500 new housing units will be built in the West Bank in defiance of international pressure is an indication that it feels “emboldened” by the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, New York Times said in a report.

“The announcement made clear that just a few days into the Trump presidency, the Israeli government feels emboldened to shake off the constraints imposed by the Obama administration and more willing to disregard international condemnation,” the newspaper said.

The Israeli decision comes one week after leaders of 70 countries meeting in Paris said in a statement that the two-state solution “appears threatened” by Israel’s expanding of settlements over Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Times said that although “[Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed the principle of side-by-side states, in the past few days Israel’s campaign of settlement building has only accelerated.” Before the 2,500 housing units were announced, Jerusalem City Council had approved on Sunday 566 new housing units in East Jerusalem that had been delayed due to objections by President Barack Obama.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense said that 900 of the newly announced units to be constructed in Ariel, an urban settlement in the heart of the West Bank.

Asked about the Israeli move, White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Trump was still forming his team and that there would be discussions with the Israeli prime minister.

“Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States,” Spicer said. “He wants to grow closer with Israel to make sure that it gets the full respect that it deserves in the Middle East, and that’s what he’s going to do.” On the other hand, Palestinian officials denounced the new Israeli plan. “Once again, the Israeli government has proved that it is more committed to land theft and colonialism than to the two-state solution and the requirements for peace and stability,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said in a statement.

Source: Qatar News Agency