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March 31, 2017 6:51 am

Israel Approves Settlement for Amona Residents, Vows Future Construction Restraint

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska at a meeting in Jerusalem on March 30, 2017. Photo: Haim Zach/GPO. – The Israeli cabinet unanimously approved the construction of a new settlement for the first time in decades, while promising restraint on future settlement construction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised the new community as compensation for the residents of Amona, a Jewish settlement outpost evacuated in February following an order by Israel’s High Court over Palestinian land ownership claims.

“I promised at the outset that we would build a new community,” Netanyahu said Thursday, before the official announcement on the new settlement, during a meeting with Slovakian President Andre Kiska. “I believe that I first gave that promise back in December, and we will uphold it today.”

The new settlement will be built near the existing settlement of Shiloh, which is near the former Amona community.

Netanyahu’s office later said that in accordance with discussions with the Trump administration, additional Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria would be limited to existing communities or in land adjacent to their boundaries.

“Israel is taking into account President Trump’s position and will therefore take significant steps to scale back construction beyond the boundaries of existing communities, and will exercise restraint,” Netanyahu told his government’s ministers, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

A White House official told The Associated Press, “The Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the president’s concerns into consideration. The United States welcomes this.”

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