Israel’s security cabinet announced on Sunday that it would legalize nine settlements in the occupied West Bank, following a series of attacks in East Jerusalem, including one that killed three on Friday.
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“In response to the deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the political and security cabinet unanimously decided to legalize nine settlements in Judea and Samaria”, the name used by Israel to designate the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by Israel, indicates a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
“These settlements have existed for many years, some of them for decades,” the statement continued. These so-called “wild” ones were built without authorization from the Israeli government.
“In addition, the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration will meet in the coming days to approve the construction of new housing in existing settlements in Judea and Samaria,” it said.
“The Security Cabinet has adopted other measures in the framework of the determined fight against terrorism”, including strengthening the presence of security forces in Jerusalem, the statement continued.
Earlier Sunday, during a meeting of his government, Benjamin Netanyahu had announced that he wanted to “strengthen colonization”, illegal under international law.
More than 475,000 Israelis reside in settlements in the West Bank, where 2.8 million Palestinians live.
Mr Netanyahu also announced that his government wanted to submit to the Knesset (parliament) this week a law to “strip of (Israeli) nationality and expel terrorists”.
These measures apply to Israeli Arabs (descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948) as well as to Palestinians with the status of residents of East Jerusalem.
This announcement comes in the context of an outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
On Friday, a Palestinian killed three Israelis, including two children, in an attack that occurred in Ramot, a Jewish settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem — part of the Holy City annexed by Israel.
And on Sunday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in an army raid in the northern West Bank.
Since the beginning of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of at least 46 Palestinians (including combatants and civilians, including minors), nine Israeli civilians (including three minors), and one Ukrainian woman, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli and Palestinian sources.