Israel has announced plans to build 3,000 new homes in West Bank settlements, pressing forward with a construction drive that began after the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president.
The announcement came as Israel prepares to uproot an illegal settlement outpost in the West Bank, and appeared to be aimed at calming settler anger over the impending court-ordered evacuation of the Amona outpost.
Israel’s Defence Ministry said the latest construction was approved by defence minister Avigdor Lieberman and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It comes days after the government approved an additional 2,500 homes in the West Bank and hundreds more in east Jerusalem.
The Palestinians claim both areas, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as parts of a future state.
Israel’s military ordered residents of Amona to evacuate the area within 48 hours, media reported, days before a deadline for its demolition that threatens to destabilise Mr Netanyahu’s government.
Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that Amona was built on private Palestinian land and must be demolished. It later set February 8 as the final date for it to be destroyed.