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Israel unveils budget for ‘Israelization’ of East J'salem al-Quds

Israeli forces patrol the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, May 13, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Tel Aviv has earmarked $560 million for the “Israelization” of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

The Israeli cabinet voted Sunday to allot 2 billion shekels ($560 million) over five years "to strengthen Israeli sovereignty" in East Jerusalem al-Quds, which is populated by Palestinians, the daily Ha'aretz reported on Monday. 

Much of the funding is intended to "encourage" Palestinian schools to use the Israeli curriculum, the newspaper said. 

According to the report, more than half of the sum is to be spent on invigorating the so-called Israeli identity in the Old City, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- Islam’s third holiest site -- and its surroundings.

This includes reinforcing the Israeli business infrastructure, and continued revamping of the Jewish cemetery on the Jabal al-Zaytun (Mount of Olives), a mountain ridge on the edge of the Old City.

A transportation route is also to link up the eastern and western parts of the holy city, the report added.

Palestinian worshipers at the mosque’s compound are subject to strict Israeli restrictions, but Israeli settlers regularly make their way into the site under military escort.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in an act of provocation on the eve of US relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Under the new plan, as much as $19 million is allocated to ousting the Palestinian school curriculum. Around twice that amount will be given to schools that replace the curriculum to spend on developing themselves and paying off their rents.

Some $4 million is spent on Hebrew-language studies, with the rest of the money assigned to informal education. 

Palestinian officials and families in East Jerusalem al-Quds are furious. They are protesting at schools being pressured to move to the Israeli curriculum, calling it an effort to change their children’s identity.

Last December, President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel and announced plans to relocate the US embassy to there. 

The relocation coincides with the anniversary of the day Israel was created in 1948, known as Nakba or catastrophe to Palestinians.

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