Israel breaks ground on first new settlement in decades

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel broke ground on a new West Bank settlement — its first in more than two decades — to house the evacuated residents of an illegal outpost.

Preliminary work began this week on Amichai, meaning “my nation lives,” for the residents of Amona, who were forced to leave in February. Some 100 housing units are planned.

But plans for actual building must go through several more steps before they can begin, The Times of Israel reported. It is not known when the community will be ready for residents.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the news of the groundbreaking on Twitter.

“After decades, I have the privilege to be the prime minister who is building a new community in Judea and Samaria,” part of the tweet said in Hebrew.

Israel has not established a completely new settlement since the early 1990s, though existing settlements have expanded and once illegal outposts have been retroactively recognized.

President Donald Trump said in February that he would like to see Israel “hold back on settlements a little bit.” Trump has said that settlement expansion “may not be helpful” in achieving peace.

Amona’s former residents are currently living in a field school in the Ofra settlement. They have been pressuring the government to move forward with the new settlement, which will be located near the existing communities of Shiloh and Eli, north of Ramallah.

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