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US 'deeply concerned' about new Israeli settlement bill

Israel’s 'formalisation bill' would allow for settlement construction on private land in the occupied West Bank
A file photo of a settlement being built (AFP)

The outgoing US administration said it was "deeply concerned" about a new Israeli draft law that aims to build illegal settlements on private land in the occupied West Bank, a US State Department spokesperson said on Monday.

"This would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that's inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion," said Elizabeth Trudeau, the head of the State Department's communications department.

She said that Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has voiced opposition to the proposed bill and calls it illegal.

Israel’s “formalisation bill” will go to the Knesset for a vote after its approval in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

If the bill becomes law, "the legalisation of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank” could happen, she added.

"Israel needs to decide whether it wants to build more settlements or prefers to advance the two-state solution," Trudeau said.

Even though President-elect Donald Trump has not yet commented on the bill, Trump’s Middle East advisor stated that the incoming president will move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“Many presidents of the US have committed to do that, and he said as well that he will do that, but he will do it under consensus,” Walid Phares said.

During the campaign, Trump called Jerusalem “the eternal capital” of Israel and said he was “100 percent for” moving the embassy there.

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