JERUSALEM — Israel announced a bold plan on Tuesday to construct 2,500 housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a decision made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just two days after he spoke with President Trump.
The move appears to be a clear sign that the Israelis no longer fear American criticism of settlement construction, which is condemned by most of the world.
For eight years, Netanyahu and his right-wing allies bristled at the harsh condemnations of settlement growth by the Obama administration, which referred to the Israeli communities as “illegitimate” and “an obstacle to peace.”
Trump, however, has signaled a more accommodating stance toward Israel. He has called for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a city claimed as the capital of both Israel and a potential future Palestinian state. Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is a hard-line opponent of the two-state solution and a supporter of the settlement enterprise in the West Bank.
The Jewish settlements have grown to house more than 400,000 Jewish residents in the West Bank and more than 200,000 in East Jerusalem.
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