Abu Rudeineh: New settlement project aims to thwart Trump's efforts


Israel's settlement-building in the West Bank rose by 70% between April 2016 and March 2017, the country's Central Bureau of Statistics has said.

The move has infuriated the Palestinians, who say all settlements are illegal obstacles to peace.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The new atmosphere of goodwill, along with concerns of potentially provoking the unpredictable president, could give Trump leverage in extracting concessions from the sides. "The Palestinian issue is No. 3 on the agenda today", he said, behind security concerns Israel and the Saudis share about Iran and terrorism.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, have rejected Netanyahu's demands to recognize Israel's Jewish identity. "They are a risky actor who has no care for the Palestinians, no care for the Israelis, and they are determined to destroy everything in their path", Haley said. Trump also received a warm welcome in Saudi Arabia, a potentially key player for Trump's goal of pursuing a region-wide deal.

The Egyptian response temporarily eases the crisis and Abu Omar said further deliveries were expected before Saturday, ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

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Kushner, a 36-year-old real estate developer with little experience of global diplomacy or political negotiation, arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning and will spend barely 20 hours on the ground - he leaves shortly after midnight.

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov made the assessment in his second quarterly report to the 15-member council on the implementation of a December 23 resolution adopted with 14 votes in favour and a USA abstention.

But Israel has continued to provide limited power to Gaza, paid for by the Palestinians, to prevent a humanitarian crisis on its doorstep and out of concern that more instability could lead to renewed fighting.

According to a Malka family spokesperson, Kushner, who was accompanied by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, spent roughly 30 minutes with her parents during the shiva (week-long family mourning period in Judaism) call. At a White House meeting in February, Netanyahu warmly noted he had known Kushner since he was a child.

Thousands attended Hadas Malka's funeral on Saturday night. He also criticized Abbas for not condemning the attack.