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Israel to spend billions of shekels on settlement expansion in West Bank

The file photo shows a partial view of the Israeli settlement of Ariel, near the Palestinian city of Nablus. (By AFP)

The Israeli regime reportedly plans to allocate billions of shekels to develop settlements in the occupied West Bank, in defiance of international calls to put an end to the theft of Palestinian lands.

Israel’s Channel 7 reported on Wednesday that the regime’s far-right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich had reached a consensus with transportation minister Miri Regev on allocating about 4 billion shekels to improve settlement infrastructures.

The Israeli transportation ministry, the report added, is supposed to allocate 160 million shekels to the development of roads connecting the West Bank settlements.

The plan covers the road between the Ariel settlement and Taffouh, along with those connecting settlements near the Palestinian cities of Nablus, Salfit, and Qalqilya, as well as the East al-Quds neighborhood of Isawiya.

The Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its settlement expansion activities since last December, when Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power as the prime minister of the regime’s most far-right cabinet.

Recently, a report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said 700,000 Israelis are living in 279 settlements across the occupied West Bank, including 14 settlements in occupied East al-Quds. 

The international community regards the settlements – hundreds of which have been built across the West Bank since Tel Aviv’s occupation of the territory in 1967 – as illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions given that they have been constructed on the occupied territories.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions. The Palestinians have historically demanded that the West Bank serves as part of their future state with East al-Quds, which is located inside the territory, as its capital.

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