Jerusalem: The Israeli cabinet on Sunday
approved listing some Jewish settlements in the occupied West
Bank as "national priority zones," entitling the communities
to millions of dollars of extra state funding.
The decision is certain to stir furore as it comes
just weeks after Israel instituted a 10-month moratorium on
new building permits in the settlements after months of US
The cabinet voted to approve a proposal to include
settlements in the list of communities designated as national
priority zones, which entitles them to credits worth USD 41
million (28 million euros), a government official said to a news agency.
The cabinet had been expected to approve the proposal
during its morning session, but put off the vote amid
disagreements over which communities inside Israel should be
included on the list.
Defence Minister and Labour chief Ehud Barak, for
example, was insisting that the coastal city of Ashkelon, a
bastion of support for his centre-left party, be included,
public radio reported.
In its vote, the cabinet also decided to create a
commission that will decide within 30 days on whether to
include Askhelon and other communities on the list, the
The new credits will benefit 110,000 settlers and can
be used for vocational training programmes and other
educational or cultural activities.