Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

"This new escalation reveals the persistence of the occupation government to continue opposing and obstructing all efforts exerted to resume the peace process," Palestinian government spokesman Yousef Mahmoud said in a statement.

Talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, who have been in conflict for decades, have been effectively shelved in recent years.

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 between the two sides. Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, accused Netanyahu and his government of caring more about "appeasing their illegal settler population than abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace."

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his "disappointment and alarm" at the decision to build a new settlement in occupied Palestinian territory.

Guterres "condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution. Settlement activities are illegal under international law and present an obstacle to peace," the UN statement said.

A UN Security Council resolution was passed in December calling a halt to settlement construction, leading Israel to cut millions of dollars of annual funding to the UN.

Israel's security cabinet voted unanimously on Thursday in favour of the construction of the new settlement north of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

It will be the first official settlement since 1991, Israeli rights group Peace Now said. They had previously said it was the first since 1992.

It is intended to house residents of the West Bank outpost of Amona, which was demolished in February after Israel's high court ruled that it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

"Netanyahu is held captive by the settlers, and chooses his political survival over the interest of the state of Israel," Israeli rights group Peace Now said.

"By giving in to settler pressure, Netanyahu is leading Israelis and Palestinians to a reality of one state and apartheid."

Israel has announced thousands of new units in existing settlements since US President Donald Trump took office.

The approval for the new settlement came despite US President Donald Trump's request to Netanyahu in mid-February to "hold back" on settlement construction.

Trump has signalled his intention to revive talks, but, in a major change for US Middle East policy, he simultaneously announced that he would be open to alternatives to the two-state solution.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday that the construction of settlements in the Palestinian Territories on the West Bank is illegal and an obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East.

The German government also called on Israel to return to the goal of a two-state solution. But Berlin rejected any push to threaten Israel with boycotts.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.

Croatian banks' exposure to Agrokor slashed by HRK 3.5 bln

The exposure of Croatia's banking system to the ailing Agrokor concern has been reduced by some 3.5 billion kuna (approximately EUR 466 million) in the past two and a half years, bankers stated on Friday.