Over 600,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, areas Palestinians seek for their future state. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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Israel said Thursday that it would give final approval to the construction of 2,500 new homes in the occupied West Bank, the first tranche of settlements since the controversial U.S. Embassy move to occupied Jerusalem. The announcement was slammed by the Palestinians, as prospects of a peace accord between the sides appeared as distant as ever.Israel's West Bank settlements are considered illegal under international law and are bitterly opposed by Palestinians.The Palestinians have said that in light of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to move the embassy, they could no longer trust Washington in its traditional role of brokering a peace deal with Israel.While Israel would expect to retain certain settlements in any two-state peace deal, longstanding international consensus has been that their status must be negotiated.Friedman, who is Jewish, is a longstanding supporter of Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and is deeply unpopular among Palestinians.
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