Middle East

Israel to ‘strengthen’ Jewish settlements in West Bank after countries recognize Palestinian state

By Oren Liebermann, CNN

CNN  —  Israel’s government says it is looking to “strengthen” Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank after several countries unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office said all of the proposals for strengthening settlements in what Israel biblically refers to as Judea and Samaria would be voted on at the next Security Cabinet meeting.

Norway, Ireland, Spain and Slovenia have each recognized an independent Palestinian state in recent weeks, a move motivated at least in part by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s open refusal to commit to a two-state solution.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the move was a reward for terrorism and would strengthen Hamas.

The statement also said Israel would look at what actions to take against the Palestinian Authority as it took actions against Israel in international bodies.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority applied to join South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

Israel’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said in May that Israel should approve 10,000 settlements in the West Bank, establish a new settlement for every country that recognizes a state of Palestine, and cancel travel permits for Palestinian Authority officials.

It is unclear if any of these radical ideas are part of the proposals currently under consideration in Israel.

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