Israel okays millions of dollars in aid to settlements
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Last Updated: Sunday, December 13, 2009, 21:02
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 pressure.

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 official said.

The new credits will benefit 110,000 settlers and can be used for vocational training programmes and other educational or cultural activities.


First Published: Sunday, December 13, 2009, 21:02

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