Israeli commander orders new settlement in West Bank

Press TV – An Israeli commander has ordered the construction of a new settlement north of the occupied West Bank for settlers of a former “unauthorized” outpost.

The chief of the Israeli military’s central command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, issued the order for the residents of the Amona outpost on Sunday, Israeli paper Ha’aretz reported.

The settlers had rejected a number of alternatives, including their absorption into existing settlements. Amona spokesman Avihai Boaron welcomed the decision, saying, “It is sadly too early to celebrate.”

Israel occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds, another Palestinian territory, in 1967. It has since built over 230 settlements in the lands in what is seen as a precursor to a possible annexation.

Western Wall projects

Also on Sunday, the Israeli cabinet held a meeting in the tunnel adjacent to Western Wall, a site of worship in Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City.

Palestinians denounced the meeting as provocative because the tunnel runs beneath the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is of huge religious significance to Muslims.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a special cabinet meeting held in the Western Wall tunnel in Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City on May 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The cabinet approved two massive projects to facilitate easier access to the site; a cable car reaching the place, and an elevator facilitating access to it. The latter project has been in the works for the last 13 years but has only been approved recently.

The announcements come after US President Donald Trump visited the region where he reiterated Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security. Encouraged by Trump’s election, Israel unveiled plans in April to build 25,000 settler units in Jerusalem al-Quds. ​

Israeli Construction Minister Yoav Gallant said Tel Aviv “has said today, with a clear and clarion voice ‘the eyes of the Jewish people have been directed toward Jerusalem and the Western Wall for 2,000 years.”

Israel, he said, “is not only declaring that the Western Wall belongs to it, but it is also investing its resources in it.’”

Tel Aviv lays claim to Jerusalem al-Quds in its entirety, including the eastern occupied section which Palestinians want for their capital.

Targeting Arab education

Separately, Israel’s Education Ministry approved a plan to encourage Arab schools in East Jerusalem al-Quds to switch to the Israeli curriculum.

The ministry said, “The purpose of this five-year plan is to improve the quality of education in East Jerusalem, with an emphasis on encouraging the study of the Israeli curriculum in the schools.”

“This is part of an effort to improve the quality of life and the environment in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and to enhance the ability of East Jerusalem residents to integrate into the Israeli economy and society, and thus strengthen the economic and social resilience of the entire capital,” it added.