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Israel to build 350 new settler units in occupied West Bank

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds on February 25, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli cabinet has approved the construction of 350 new settler units in the occupied West Bank irrespective of an international outcry against the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement expansion policies in Palestinian lands.

The units will be built at Netiv Ha’avot settlement, which is located south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Addressing the cabinet ahead of its weekly meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and other senior authorities for their efforts in earmarking the funds, which required corresponding cuts to various offices.

“The residents of Netiv Ha’avot have been waiting a long time for this,” Netanyahu said.

Some of the allocated money will also go toward building a temporary neighborhood for the 15 families whose homes are slated for demolition until permanent homes are built for them nearby.

Praising the cabinet decision, Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman, Shlomo Ne’eman, called it “a tremendous achievement for the Zionist enterprise in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical names.

New research by a left-wing Israeli NGO shows that over 40 percent of the graves in the West Bank settlements have been dug on privately owned Palestinian land.

The comprehensive study claims that some 600 graves, situated in or near 10 settlements, are dug on Palestinian land, including land that has been expropriated for public use or taken by Israel for what it describes as security needs.

The research was undertaken by Dror Etkes from Kerem Navot, a nongovernmental organization concerned with Israeli settlement policies.

The photo, taken on November 8, 2017, shows a general view of construction work in the Gilo settlement in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. (Photo by AFP)

Netanyahu warns ‘disproportionate’ settlement growth would anger Trump

In his cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu also warned ministers against promoting a massive expansion of the settlement where slain Israeli rabbi, Itamar Ben-Gal, lived, arguing that doing so would anger the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu was responding to requests made on behalf of Ben-Gal’s widow, Miriam, who called for the construction of 800 homes in the northern West Bank settlement of Har Bracha in response to a recent attack that killed her husband.

“It is forbidden to advance a disproportionate amount of construction in a way that will break our understandings with the Trump administration,” Netanyahu said, according to a senior official.

However, the prime minister made clear that he was still interested in promoting a construction project in the settlement and instructed his chief of staff to look into the matter.

Less than a month before Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.”

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its "capital."

This as there have been regular anti-US protests by Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since December 6, when Trump declared that Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and was moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. Many say Trump's move has effectively killed any chances of further negotiations.

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