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21 Jun, 2016

Israel approves $21.3m aid for illegal West Bank settlements

RAMALLAH, 20 June 2016, (WAFA) – The Israeli government, in its weekly meeting on Sunday, approved an additional 82 million shekels (about $21.3m) of aid to illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to Israeli media.

The funds include 15 million shekels to cover extra security expenses; 10 million shekels for temporary housing and repairs, six million shekels for welfare-related activities and five million shekels for the development of tourism infrastructure.

The Ministry of Information, in response, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to “fatten” the settlements is an attempt to legalize them, as well as a challenge to a world who consider Israeli settlement activities to be illegal.

“Israel acts as a state above the law and rejects to be part of the international community, who a few days ago appointed it to head a legal committee at the United Nations,” the Ministry said.

Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law.

A 2013 United Nations report said the Israeli government persists in building settlements in occupied territories claimed by Palestinians for a future state, including east Jerusalem and the West Bank, “despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation,” the report said.

The settlements are “a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” the report concludes.

More than 500,000 Israelis already live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. Israel annexed east Jerusalem, with its Palestinian population, immediately after capturing the territory from Jordan in 1967 and has built housing developments for Jews there, but the annexation has not been internationally recognized.