Monday, December 18, 2017

Citing heightened security tensions, Israel approves additional $18.6 million to expand settlements in West Bank


By Lili Martinez - June 21, 2016
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [settlement construction] [Settlement Expansion] [settlements] [Settlers] [Geneva Conventions] [West Bank] [Two State Solution]


The continuation of settlement activities is killing the two-state solution, and the international community has a very big responsibility to exercise immediately sanctions against Israel

The Israeli government on Sunday approved an additional $18.6 million to finance the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, citing safety concerns for settlement residents stemming from the wave of violence that began in October 2015. The announcement comes as new Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is himself a settler, meets with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Washington in his first trip since assuming the position.

The new funding is in addition to the $87.9 million already allocated to settlements. It includes funding from the Interior Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Health Ministry, and the Welfare and Social Services ministry. A portion of it will be used to create “psychological support centers” for settlement residents, according to the resolution.

“Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria face a unique security situation on a daily basis because of their geographic location and the fabric of life in the area,” the resolution statement said. According to the statement, the security situation in settlements has grown worse since the outbreak of violence in October — during which at least 200 Palestinians and 30 Israelis were killed — necessitating steps to protect the psychological well-being of residents.

Centrist and leftist Israeli politicians condemned the new funding, and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned that further settlement expansion could lead to a binational state “in which the Jews will become a minority within a couple of generations.”

Palestinian authorities also criticized the move. “The continuation of settlement activities is killing the two-state solution, and the international community has a very big responsibility to exercise immediately sanctions against Israel,” Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Palestine Monitor. “Israel must know that there is a price for violating international and killing the hopes for peace for both people.”

According to Barghouti, this decision sends a clear message to those who hope for peace and a two-state solution. “Israel has only one plan: to obstruct any possibility for peace, kill any potential for Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and annex the West Bank,” he said.

In a time of heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine following the 2014 Gaza war and the stabbing attacks which peaked in October and November of last year, Israel has increased its focus on mitigating security concerns. In the wake of this month’s shooting attack in Tel Aviv, the government revoked tens of thousands of travel permits it had previously granted to Palestinians and destroyed several houses, despite a promise to halt house demolitions during the month of Ramadan.

The announcement of new funding also comes after the conclusion of the first international conference on a two-state solution hosted by France under the umbrella of its new peace initiative for Israel and Palestine. Israel has rejected the initiative and said it will not take part in talks planned for later this year.

Settlements in the occupied West Bank, which Israel calls Judea and Samaria, are widely considered to be illegal under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, adopted in August 1949, stipulates that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The Convention also forbids collective punishment; despite this, many international human rights organizations allege that Israel’s practice of demolishing the family homes of suspected terrorists can be considered collective punishment.

 

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