Palestinians slam Israeli settlement project in West Bank

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The Palestinian Central Council of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is scheduled to hold a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday and Monday to discuss the Palestinian response to the US decision on Jerusalem and Israel's settlement policies.

The 315 signatories covered the gamut of religious streams, including Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist clergy, according to J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group that initiated the letter.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem - land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

J Street and its student affiliate, J Street U, launched a campaign a year ago to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.

The area frequently sees tensions between hardline Israeli settlers and Palestinians.

Israeli checkpoints at Huwwara and Zatara have been seeing strict measures where Israeli soldiers continue to inspect vehicles and personal identification cards after an Israeli settler was shot dead on Tuesday night on a main road outside the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Gilad located near Nablus.

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Trump's December 6 announcement that he would move the U.S. embassy from Israel's commercial capital to Jerusalem enraged the Palestinians. "Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards", Friedman said.

Last month, the European Union urged the Israeli regime to stop plans for the construction of new settler units in the occupied West Bank, warning that such moves undermine peace efforts. Shevah is the first Israeli killed since then.

The Israeli media quoted Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying that he would ask the Israeli government for approval Wednesday for a plan to build 1,285 new settlement units this year in settlements in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, responded to Ambassador Friedman's tweet, thanking the United States for standing with Israel and for trying to bring an end to the Palestinian Authority's sponsorship of terrorism.

Israeli officials have regularly called for a halt to payments of families of Palestinian prisoners, including those convicted of attacks, or those killed while carrying out attacks. "Look no further to why there is no peace", Friedman said.

Israel's defence ministry claimed the Palestinian Authority had paid out 1.2 billion shekels (USD 350 million), or seven per cent of the PA's annual budget, in 2017 as part of the policy.

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