Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved a new settlement in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, two days ahead of a closely fought election as he seeks to boost turnout among his right-wing base.
The approval came as Netanyahu and his main opponent Benny Gantz vied to mobilize supporters.
Netanyahu has made a flurry of announcements in recent days as part of his efforts to continue his reign as longest-serving prime minister in the Zionist entity.
On Sunday, the cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an “official settlement”, the premier’s office said.
All settlements are viewed as illegal under international law, but Tel Aviv distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The latest approval follows Netanyahu’s pledge last week to annex the Jordan Valley, which amounts to one-third of the West Bank, if he wins Tuesday’s elections.
“The government passed the PM’s motion to build Mevoot Yericho,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said as the weekly cabinet meeting was convened ceremoniously in the Jordan Valley.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh dismissed the entire cabinet meeting as illegal and called on the international community to “stop the Israeli madness aimed at destroying all the foundations of the political process”.
Israeli anti-settlement NGO Peace Now said: “The government continues to show blatant disregard for reaching a two-state conflict-ending agreement with the Palestinians.”
Netanyahu has also said he intends to annex settlements in the wider West Bank, but in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose so-called “Deal of the Century” plan is expected to be released after the election.
The European Union and the United Nations — in addition to the Palestinians — condemned Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley announcement last week.