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Israel approves $6 million settlement expansion in Hebron City

Oct. 14, 2018 1:58 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 16, 2018 12:48 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli government approved, on Sunday, 22 million shekels ($6.1 million) in government funding to expand an illegal Israeli settlement inside the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

According to Hebrew-languages news outlets, the new housing units, which will be constructed at the site of a former Israeli army base, was previously approved by the Israeli Civil Administration.

Sources confirmed that the Israeli government’s approval provides the necessary funding for the construction to proceed on the new Israeli neighborhood, which is to include 31 housing units, as well as kindergartens and public parks.

The project, which will reduce the military zone in the area, will be funded by a number of government ministries, including 2.8 million shekels ($772,584) from the Defense Ministry. Other ministries providing funding include the Science, Technology and Space Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry and the ministries of social equality, justice and education.

Additionally, some of the funds will be the 2018 budget.

The newly approved housing units are the first project to expand illegal Israeli settlements in Hebron after more than a decade.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers live in Hebron under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

Meanwhile, Israel's settlement expansion has been deemed a main impediment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Israeli human rights watchdog Peace Now said in a statement “If the Israeli government is interested in peace it must halt settlement expansion immediately. Otherwise, it must reveal its true intentions and face the consequences.”

According to Peace Now, in the year and a half since President Trump took office some 14,454 units in the West Bank has been approved, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and half before his inauguration (4,476 units).

"The Netanyahu government is clearly continuing to take advantage of the carte blanche the Trump Administration has given it in order to destroy the chances for peace," Peace Now said.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

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