Israeli monitor: Settlements grew under Trump presidency

An Israeli monitoring group says that West Bank settlement construction surged during the first year of the Trump presidency.

Peace Now says Israel began construction of 2,783 settlement homes in 2017. That is about 17 percent higher than the annual average since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009.

President Donald Trump has taken a softer line toward settlements than his predecessors, asking Israel to show restraint but avoiding strong condemnations of past presidents. His Mideast peace team is dominated by people with close ties to the settlement movement.

In Sunday's report, Peace Now stopped short of blaming the Israeli surge exclusively on Trump.

It said the jump in construction attests to Netanyahu's "steadfast abetting" of the settlements. But it said the new president "had no marginal deterrent effect."