Israel cuts back Gaza electricity supplies


Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Tuesday the announcement by the Israeli government to build a new settlement in the occupied West Bank thwarts peace efforts of US President Donald Trump.

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his lead worldwide negotiator, will meet with leaders from both sides after accompanying Trump on his visit to the region last month.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu tweeted over a picture of a small bulldozer and a digger working on a rocky hill overlooking a vineyard.

Trump made a personal appeal for peace during a visit to Israel last month.

Peace Now, a settlement watchdog group, has said that the rise in construction in the West Bank correlates to a drop in new buildings within Israel of 2.5%.

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Since the 1993 peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, the number of settlement homes has increased more than threefold, threatening the viability of a two-state solution.

Heavy machinery work on a field as they begin construction work of Amichai, a new settlement which will house some 300 Jewish settlers evicted in February from the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona, in the West Bank June 20, 2017.

The expansion of existing settlements on the West Bank - territory which Israel occupied during a conflict in 1967, has been a major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Peace Now said Monday that new figures from the Israeli government showed a 70 percent rise in settlement construction over the a year ago.

Press secretary Sean Spicer said Mr Kushner and Mr Greenblatt will hear from Mr Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials during the trip.

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Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew who was Trump's real-estate adviser, is soft on settlements and was even an armed guard at a West Bank yeshiva he studied at in the 1980s.

The Palestinians and the worldwide community consider the settlements obstacles to Palestinian statehood. But ahead of his last election victory in 2015, he promised there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch, a remark seen as an attempt to shore right-wing support.

Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority in Gaza said electricity was reduced by 8 megawatts to the 2 million residents.

Trump administration officials have said that if they are going to make progress on peace, they do not want to get bogged down in process but to move rapidly on tackling what are known as "final status" issues, the complexities around Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, water resources, security and borders.

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