Netanyahu vows to build to thousands of houses in West Bank settlement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Abir Sultan, pool via AP, File)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Abir Sultan, pool via AP, File)

Maale Adumim — Israel's prime minister on Tuesday pledged to build thousands of new homes in one of the West Bank's biggest Jewish settlements and annex it to Israel.

The comments drew an angry condemnation from the Palestinians and created a new test for the Trump administration, which has been working for over eight months to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to Maaleh Adumim that he was announcing a period of "enhanced development".

"We will build thousands of housing units here," he said. "We will add the industrial zone needed and the expansion needed to allow for the advanced development of this place."

"This place will be part of the state of Israel," he added.

Netanyahu gave no specifics or timetable, suggesting that his comments may have been playing to his nationalistic base.

Hard-line rhetoric

Facing a series of corruption investigations, Netanyahu has stepped up his hard-line rhetoric in recent weeks with attacks on the media and appeals to his core supporters. This has included two other speeches in West Bank settlements where he vowed never to uproot any of them.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as part of a future independent state and consider all of Israel's settlements to be illegal — a position that is widely shared by the international community. Israel says the settlements' fate should be resolved through negotiations.

Maaleh Adumim is a settlement of roughly 40 000 people just east of Jerusalem. It is considered strategic because it lies in the center of the West Bank, and making it part of Israel could greatly hinder Palestinian statehood aspirations.

Destroying the two-state solution?

Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called Netanyahu's comments "totally unacceptable".

"This is an attempt by Netanyahu to destroy the two-state solution and a clear refusal of any attempt to revive the peace process, especially by the United States," he said.

President Donald Trump has taken a softer line toward the settlements than his predecessors, and his key advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and ambassador to Israel David Friedman, have longstanding ties to the settlement movement. Even so, Trump has still asked Israel to show restraint.

Early this year, Israel shelved a proposal to annex Maaleh Adumim under apparent pressure from the White House. Netanyahu's comments indicated that he may be preparing to revive the proposal.

Trump's Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has been in the region meeting with the sides as part of his effort to restart talks.

There was no immediate reaction from Greenblatt's office to Netanyahu's comments.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3133 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2160 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 3013 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.06
(-0.69)
ZAR/GBP
20.97
(-0.46)
ZAR/EUR
18.12
(-0.32)
ZAR/AUD
11.74
(-0.83)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.41)
Gold
1728.16
(+0.25)
Silver
26.26
(-0.88)
Platinum
1182.50
(-0.08)
Brent Crude
63.29
(-1.13)
Palladium
2354.50
(+0.43)
All Share
68178.19
(+0.95)
Top 40
62754.62
(+1.04)
Financial 15
12511.87
(+0.45)
Industrial 25
89117.29
(+1.18)
Resource 10
69679.15
(+1.03)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo