Israel to build 2,500 more homes in West Bank

Israel West Bank
A separation wall in the West Bank area (Getty)

Israel has announced plans to build another 2,500 settlement houses in the West Bank occupied territory.

It's the second announcement of new building developments in the occupied area since Donald Trump became US president.

A statement from Israel's defence ministry says the plans, which have been authorised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are intended to meet a demand for new housing "to maintain regular daily life".

The plan has been condemned by Palestinian authorities. "Once again, the Israeli government has proved that it is more committed to land theft and colonialism than to the two-state solution and the requirements for peace and stability," senior official Hanan Ashrawi said.

It comes two days after the Israeli government approved the construction of 566 settler homes in east Jerusalem.

One hundred of the buildings will be in Beit El, a settlement that's received funding from the family of Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Israeli media reports.

Mr Kushner has been made a senior White House adviser.

Under the Obama administration, developing Israeli settlements were often frozen for fear of diplomatic pressure from the US.

In December diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand soured after New Zealand co-sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council criticising Israeli settlements as violating international law and undermining a two-state solution with Palestine.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his foreign ministry to temporarily limit ties with the 12 UNSC members that voted in favour of the resolution, being Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand.

Earlier, he called New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and described New Zealand's move as a "scandalous decision", according to unnamed Western diplomats cited by Israeli news site Haaretz.