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Israeli Minister Wants to Resume Settlement Annexation

Israeli Minister Wants to Resume Settlement Annexation

Monday, 17 August, 2020 - 08:00

Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party said Sunday that the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank will resume.

He told the Kan public broadcaster that the plan was already suspended before the announcement of the deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The UAE is a country with great economic power, and relations with it and with other countries will create a dramatic pivot for Israel,” he noted.

The Israeli army’s Civil Administration has earlier announced approving a series of measures in favor of the settlement.

These include linking Binyamin settlement bloc, which is built lands in Ramallah villages, with Jerusalem city and the settlements located on its occupied eastern part.

Sources familiar with the Civil Administration’s decisions said this new road will add several kilometers to “Street No. 35”, stretching and linking between “Binyamin” and “Atarot” industrial zones in northern East Jerusalem.

It also includes a 600-meter long tunnel, passing under the Qalandiya checkpoint and al-Ram town, south of Ramallah, sources added.

The project maps revealed that it confiscates a few hundred dunams of Palestinian lands.

Another project on “Street No. 60” was approved by the Civil Administration and extends from "Adam" settlement to the Hizma checkpoint, northeast of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said Palestinians may use the first street, while the second would only be passed by settlers living in “Adam, Psagot, Beit El and Ofra” settlements.

The construction of al-Walaja bypass road, south of Jerusalem, which connects Jerusalem and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, has also been approved to expand Har Homa settlement by building 560 new housing units.

Commenting on these measures, Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher for Ir Amim, an Israeli rights group focused on Jerusalem, said although the official annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories has now been postponed, the actual annexation is dramatically progressing.

Far Right opposition MK Ayelet Shaked said these projects are “cosmetic and aim at covering up the freezing of the annexation plan to distract settlers with small prizes.”

While Likud’s Minister of Regional Cooperation Ofir Akunis said the project indicated that “the annexation is ongoing.”

“Despite the agreement with the UAE, the sovereignty issue has not been canceled, and we are working to never create a Palestinian state.”

“Israel’s sovereignty over the territories is based on our natural right,” he added, stressing that settlements in the West Bank will not be frozen but will intensify and increase.

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