Israel pushes ahead with settlements as Trump takes office

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Aron Heller

JERUSALEM (AP) — The municipality of Jerusalem granted final approval Sunday for the construction of hundreds of new homes in east Jerusalem, while a hard-line Cabinet minister pushed the government to annex a major West Bank settlement as emboldened Israeli nationalists welcomed the presidency of Donald Trump.

After eight years of testy ties with President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is looking forward to a new era of close relations with the U.S. under Trump. The two were scheduled to talk on the phone later Sunday.

At his weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu thanked Trump for his friendship and his inauguration speech pledge to battle radical Islamic militants. He said they would discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat, among other issues.

More hawkish elements in his coalition, however, are already calling for concrete action given Trump’s perceived acquiescence to Israeli settlement building.