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Israel Approves First New Settlement in Decades

But it was not immediately clear whether the approval of the new settlement was meant to be a provocative move to scuttle the prospect of a revival of peace talks. Mr. Netanyahu said he was following through on a pledge he made a few weeks ago to 40 settler families who were evacuated from the illegal Amona outpost in the West Bank. That outpost was removed by court order because it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

“I promised at the outset that we would build a new community,” Mr. Netanyahu said earlier Thursday. “I believe that I first gave that promise back in December, and we will uphold it today.”

Some analysts have speculated that the move could be a one-off gesture meant to appease settlement advocates before Mr. Netanyahu acquiesces to the Trump administration’s call for restraint, part of its push to revive long-stalled peace talks. In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu’s flurry of settlement announcements has widely been seen as catering to the right wing of his governing coalition.

In other moves meant to mollify the right wing, Mr. Netanyahu’s office announced that some 220 acres of land in the center of the West Bank had been declared “state land,” making it eligible for more settler housing, and that technical difficulties had been removed, allowing the marketing of some 2,000 housing units out of the 5,700 recently approved.

“Today’s announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said in a statement.

For years, Israel refrained from establishing new settlements, under pressure from previous American administrations and in deference to peace efforts with the Palestinians. But it has continued to expand existing ones.

In addition, Israel recently passed contentious legislation paving the way for the retroactive legalization of settlement outposts that were built without government authorization on private Palestinian land. The law is intended to prevent future evacuations like that of Amona.

The new settlement is to be built in the Shilo area, where a string of outposts and settlements cuts across the West Bank horizontally in what critics describe as a bid to prevent a contiguous Palestinian-controlled territory and to create Palestinian cantons.

Israeli officials gave no details about when construction might begin, and all settlement construction must go through several stages of approval.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinians’ veteran chief negotiator, recently led a tour of the area for diplomats and reporters. Standing on a windswept hill on the edge of the Palestinian village of Jaloud, surrounded by outposts and with a view of the bare hilltop where the new settlement is to be erected, Mr. Erekat said: “These settlements are in the heart of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. They are not near any border.”

Instead of the widely accepted two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, involving the establishment of a separate Palestinian state, Mr. Erekat said that Israel was creating “one state with two systems.”

Israel and the White House have been negotiating for weeks to try to reach an understanding on slowing or curbing settlement construction in the West Bank — so far, by all accounts, without conclusion.

Mr. Trump has been vocal about his determination to forge a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Early forays into the region by Jason D. Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s special representative for international negotiations and his point man in the settlement talks, have been a study in diplomatic even-handedness.

Mr. Greenblatt was in Jordan this week as an American observer at an Arab League summit meeting. He posted photographs on Twitter of his meetings with regional leaders including President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and foreign ministers from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and North African countries.

On his way back from Jordan, Mr. Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew, stopped off in Jerusalem to receive a blessing from Rabbi Gershon Edelstein of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, whom Mr. Greenblatt described as “a father of the Israeli yeshiva world.”

In a video clip of the meeting, Mr. Greenblatt can be heard asking the rabbi, in basic Hebrew, for advice on how to go about his new and weighty role. The rabbi told him that God helps those who try to do good things.

On a previous visit to Israel and the West Bank in mid-March, Mr. Greenblatt posted photos of his meetings with Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas, as well as those with Israeli students, with Palestinians in the Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah and with religious leaders. He did not mention or post any photographs of his meeting with representatives of the settler movement, whom he met in Jerusalem rather than in a settlement.

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