JERUSALEM: Israel began Wednesday to install houses at its first new settlement in more than 25 years, AFP journalists at the scene said.
A number of prefabricated mobile homes were delivered to the site that will become Amichai, the first new settlement sanctioned by the Israeli government since 1991.
A number of settlements built without permits from the government have been retroactively legalised in that time, while existing settlements have expanded exponentially.
Amichai is located not far from the Shilo settlement in the northern West Bank, the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel for 50 years.
All settlement construction is considered illegal under international law but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it doesn’t.
The settlement is being built for the roughly 40 families that were evicted from Amona, a community built without Israeli permits that was demolished in February 2017.
The demolition came as Israel’s supreme court concluded it was built on private Palestinian land but was heavily criticised by many members of Israel’s right-wing government.
“It’s a special day for us to see a new village built in Israel,” Israel Ganz, vice-president of the Binyamin Regional Council which manages settlements in this part of the West Bank, told AFP.
Settlers consider the West Bank as part of Israel.
He said the families were expected to move in in about a month.
“To see 40 families here is a first step but we dream of seeing hundreds of families on these hills,” he added, pointing to the surrounding area.
The United Nations considers Israeli settlement building one of the largest obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.