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Friday, July 1, 2016

Israel approves extra $18 million in funding for West Bank settlements

A statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu's office approved $18 million in extra funding for Jewish West Bank settlements. The move angered opposition lawmakers and Palestinians.

The statement claimed that the additional funding is aimed at assisting small businesses, encouraging tourism and strengthening security. There have been months of attacks by Palestinians on civilian and soldiers. There are about 600,000 Jews living in the settlements in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, on lands captured from Jordan in a 1967 war. East Jerusalem is regarded by Israel as part of Israel but this is not recognized internationally. The West Bank is occupied territory. Most nations regard the settlements as illegal and Palestinians claim the territory as part of a future Palestinian state. Some opposition members insist it would make more sense to use the $18 million to boost the Israeli economy.instead of spending it on the settlements.
Opposition members of the Knesset or parliament said that the government was spending additional money on an enterprise that actually undermined Israeli security and damaged its international standing. US State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, simply reaffirmed US opposition to building the settlements in response to the Israeli action, saying:"Our position on settlement activity remains clear and consistent. We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. We continue to look to both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution. Actions such as these do just the opposite."
Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right coalition has shown a dedication to the settler's movement which has become a hot topic of conversation in Israeli politics. Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Knesset member for the Zionist Union, has claimed that the settlers' councils are in effect dictating the government policy agenda even though they represent a small minority of the Israeli population. As the government swings further to right more members of the coalition see the settlers as their primary constituency. As Livni recently put it: “Israeli government does whatever the Yesha Council [the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and formerly in Gaza] wants; it is a minority that imposes its national agenda on the government.” Later she said:“Israel must make a decision right now that it has avoided making for 50 years. The real question is what are we doing with the territories. Without a decision on annexation or partition, we’re bumbling about without a direction, without choosing our future, while the conflict seeps in and undermines Israel’s values. I want a referendum so we know where we are headed — two states or one between the [Jordan] river and the [Mediterranean] Sea? A Jewish and democratic Israel or a Jewish and not democratic Israel?”Livni welcomed remarks by former defense ministers Moshe Ya'alon and Ehud Barak.who called for PM Netanyahu to be replaced and his government toppled. Barak recently said that the countdown to Netanyahu's ouster has already begun and his government is anti-Zionist and a threat to the future of Israel. Ya'alon intends to run for leadership of Israel.

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