Israel Approves 4,427 New Settler Homes

AP file photo of a settlement in Jerusalem
AP file photo of a settlement in Jerusalem
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Israel Approves 4,427 New Settler Homes

AP file photo of a settlement in Jerusalem
AP file photo of a settlement in Jerusalem

Israel on Thursday approved the construction of more than 4,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli rights group said.

It's the biggest advancement of settlement projects since the Biden administration took office. The US opposes settlement construction and views it as an obstacle to any eventual peace deal with the Palestinians. Most of the international community views the settlements as illegal.

Hagit Ofran, an expert on the settlements at the anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now, says a military planning body approved 4,427 housing units at a meeting that she attended.

According to AFP, Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The approval came a day after Israel's military demolished at least 18 buildings and structures in the occupied West Bank following a Supreme Court decision that would force around 1,000 Palestinians out of an area Israel had designated a firing zone.

B'Tselem, another Israeli rights group, said in a statement that Border Police and soldiers leveled a total of 18 structures, including 12 residential buildings, in villages in the hills south of the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday.

Last week, Israel's Supreme Court upheld an expulsion order that would force out residents of a cluster of Bedouin communities in Masafer Yatta, where they say they have been living for decades. The military declared the area a firing zone in the early 1980s.

Neither COGAT, the Israeli military body in charge of civilian affairs in the occupied territory, nor the army responded to requests for comment about the demolitions.



Yemen’s Central Bank Tightens Grip on Foreign Transfers

Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)
Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)
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Yemen’s Central Bank Tightens Grip on Foreign Transfers

Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)
Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)

Yemen’s Central Bank, based in Aden, the interim capital, has tightened its grip on foreign money transfers, requiring all transactions to go through approved banks and exchange companies.

Banks and exchange companies must operate mainly from Aden and grant local entities permission to handle transactions. Moreover, they must deliver remittances in the received currency without converting unless the client requests otherwise.

This step aims to better regulate financial flows amidst Yemen’s challenging economic situation.

The decision strengthens the Central Bank’s control in Aden by requiring all banks and exchange companies in Houthi-held areas to get approval before conducting transactions.

It also ensures that transfers are made in the original currency, unlike what the Houthis are doing now, withholding transfers in US dollars. This comes just two days before the deadline for banks to move their main offices from Houthi-controlled Sanaa to the interim capital.

According to Yemeni financial expert Wahid Al-Fudai, the Central Bank’s decision aims to regulate international money transfers through remittance companies and tighten control over them.

Al-Fudai sees this decision as part of the bank’s efforts to regulate banks and exchange companies according to local laws, serving the public interest, and keeping up with global trends.

He explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Central Bank had previously issued instructions regarding financial networks, emphasizing the need for its oversight over external transfers.

He stressed that only qualified and licensed institutions are allowed to conduct these transfers, meeting all requirements for compliance with international standards, especially in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

Al-Fudai highlighted the importance of this step, especially with the Iran-backed Houthi militias now labeled as a terrorist organization by the United States and Australia, which could lead to further complications requiring the Central Bank’s attention.