The Israeli government has approved an additional $20 million for illegal settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank, despite political opposition from the Palestinians, as well as in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move was “an assistance plan to strengthen communities” in the West Bank, saying it would “strengthen security, assist small businesses and encourage tourism,” reported The Guardian.
But Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat called the move a “slap in the face of the international community.”
“Israel is doing everything possible to sabotage every effort to achieve a just and lasting peace,” Erekat said in a statement. “It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities towards this extremist government that openly supports apartheid and stands against the two-state solution.”
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And strong words came from Ofer Newman, spokesman for Israel's left-wing Zionist Union party, who condemned the funding and, after watching a critical documentary about Israeli settlers, said in a Facebook post that the Israeli settlers “built swimming pools on the blood of children they murdered.”
He added: “What kind of a twisted moral basis enables these people to stride along on a path toward the deaths of thousands of Israelis without anyone saying to them: ‘You have gone too far! You are lowly murderers. You belong in prison!'”
Newman later apologized for his remarks, but his party maintained its opposition to additional settlements in the West Bank, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The extra money for Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, come at a time when Israel is being criticized for demolishing unlicensed Palestinian homes and livestock pens in the West Bank, reported The New York Times.