Israel is set to approve a new settlement in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank, retroactively “legalising” an unauthorised settler outpost.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the cabinet will confirm the decision on Sunday, days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex the Jordan Valley should he win a new term, and shortly before Israelis go to the polls on 17 September.
The paper reported that the move “will mark the third time in the last two years that the government has approved a new West Bank settlement.”
“It is a step toward the application of sovereignty,” Netanyahu said during a special Knesset session. “This is the right thing to do. This is what needs to be done. This is what the people want us to do.”
Mevo’ot Yericho is a small settlement consisting of some 30 families, and its retroactive approval by Israeli authorities was welcomed by the settlers’ Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Lahiani.
During Netanyahu’s decade in office, the Jerusalem Post said, “the cabinet has approved six new settlements, five of which were pre-existing outposts.”
Netanyahu also addressed criticism from the right that he had not annexed the Jordan Valley during his time as prime minister to date, and was thus announcing it now as a shallow election promise.
“Those who ask why we didn’t annex it before don’t understand how it works,” he said.
“I have been working for years on softening hearts. It is a gradual process. That is why I told the US over the past few days about my decision.”