01-11-2021 CBN News Jerusalem Emily Jones
JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel announced on Monday plans to build some 800 new settler homes in the West Bank – biblical Judea and Samaria – before Joe Biden is sworn in as President of the United States.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the move would include 100 new homes in the community of Esther Horgan, an Israeli settler woman who Israeli authorities say was killed in a terror attack last month.
Israel captured the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. However, Palestinians want the area to become part of a future Palestinian state. Today, some 500,000 people live in settlement communities scattered across the biblical heartland.
The Trump administration was supportive of Israeli settlement communities, announcing in November “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.” Last year, outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first top American diplomat to visit a West Bank settlement community.
Biden, on the other hand, sides with the international community, which largely considers the settlements to be illegal and an obstacle to peace. The building of new settlement communities is expected to be a point of tension between Jerusalem and Washington under the Biden administration.
Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, who seeks to oust Netanyahu in March, called the announcement “irresponsible,” and charged Netanyahu with picking an “unnecessary” fight with Washington.
Palestinian leaders also denounced the move, accusing Israel of racing against time to approve the controversial measure while the US focuses on the transition of power from Trump to Biden.
Netanyahu celebrated the announcement on Facebook, saying: “We’re here to stay. We’re continuing to build the Land of Israel!”
It is not immediately clear when construction on the new homes will begin.
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