Israeli cabinet approves Jewish settlement

THE Israeli cabinet has legalised a settlement in the Jordan Valley, in the West Bank.

The move to legalise the Mevo'ot Yericho outpost comes days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex the Jordan Valley if he wins the general elections, which will be held on Tuesday.

"The final approval will of course be given when the formation of the new government," Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying at the cabinet meeting, which was held in Mevo'ot Yeriho.

Mevo'ot Yeriho was founded in 1999 for agricultural purposes and evolved into a community which today houses 30 families, according to Haaretz.

Until Sunday, however, there was no government decision to officially establish it as a settlement.

Netanyahu's announcement that he intends to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea drew international backlash.

This year, appealing to right-wing voters as part of his election campaign, Netanyahu has championed annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are regarded as illegal under international law by most of the world.

Over his past 10 years as prime minister, however, Netanyahu has not taken any concrete steps to implement annexation.

Netanyahu's Likud party faces a close race against the centrist Blue and White party in the upcoming election.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War, and hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis are now living in the territory, which is claimed by Palestinians for their future state.