[QODLink]
Middle East

Israel expands West Bank settlement subsidies

Cabinet approves funding for dozens of illegal settlements just days after resumption of talks with Palestinians.

Last Modified: 04 Aug 2013 16:44
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The cabinet will still need to provide additional approval for subsidies to settlements in the West Bank [Reuters]

The Israeli cabinet has voted to expand the list of illegal West Bank settlements eligible for government subsidies, just days after the resumption of talks with the Palestinian Authority in which settlements are a major issue.

Ministers on Sunday approved a new "national priority map," a list of poor communities earmarked for housing subsidies and other benefits.

Included on the list are 91 settlements in the occupied West Bank, up from 85 on the previous version. Many of them are in areas which would almost certainly be evacuated by Israel in a deal with the Palestinians.

Three of the newly-added settlements - Rehelim, Sansana and Bruchin - were until recently considered "illegal outposts," which means they were built without government approval. Their status was normalised last year by a cabinet vote.

This is exactly what Israel wants ... a free hand to destroy the objective of the [negotiation] process.

Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian negotiator

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, and the United Nations and much of the world treats them as such.

The vote comes just days after Palestinian and Israeli negotiators flew to Washington for their first face-to-face meeting in three years.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said the cabinet vote affirmed Palestinian suspicions about Israel's motivations.

"This is exactly what Israel wants, have a process for its own sake, and at the same time have a free hand to destroy the objective of the process," she said. "This will have a destructive impact [on the talks]."

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli government, said the government would have to grant additional approval for any subsidies to the settlements.

Four Israeli ministers abstained from the vote, including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also the lead negotiator with the Palestinian Authority.

"I don't think it is the time diplomatically, or from a socioeconomic point of view,to include new settlements that until recently were illegal," said environment minister Amir Peretz, who also abstained.

Some of the newly-listed settlements are political strongholds of the Jewish Home party, a member of the governing coalition which is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state.

370

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
In US study, MIT scientists changed the emotions linked to specific memories in mice.
The seizure of the Tabqa airbase highlights the Islamic State's consolidation of power in eastern Syria, analysts say.
Traditional spring festival blossoms outside India through fun runs, raves and TV commercials.
Parents unable to look after children are marrying them off at a tender age, exposing them to maternal deaths.
New measures needed as dozens of citizens fighting with Islamic State pose home-grown terror threat, PM Abbott says.
join our mailing list