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west bank

Despite Trump's warning, Israel begins work on first new West Bank settlement in more than two decades

President Trump cautioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a little bit" during the leaders' meeting in February, but just a few months later, Israel has broken ground for its first new West Bank settlement in 25 years, The Times of Israel reports.

"Today, ground works began, as I promised, for the establishment of the new community for the residents of Amona," Netanyahu said, naming an unauthorized outpost that was shut down in February for having been built on private Palestinian land. In March, Trump accepted Netanyahu's justification for construction on a new settlement, named Amichai, as an "exceptional settlement for evacuees of Amona," The Jerusalem Post writes.

West Bank settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this; the tension is a main point of conflict during discussions of a two-state resolution. Amichai is the first settlement to be raised since the Oslo Accords were signed by Israel and Palestine in 1993. It is expected to house around 40 families, the BBC reports.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Amichai's construction "a grave escalation and attempt to foil efforts" by Trump to jumpstart a peace process. Netanyahu, though, also faced pressure from his political party's right-wing members, who wanted the settlements built.

The construction on Amichai could mean rough sailing ahead for Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who lands in Israel tomorrow in the hopes of reviving the floundering peace process.