Rivlin: Golan Heights 'an integral part of Israel'
Security Cabinet to discuss Qalqilya expansion plan due to right-wing pressureDue to the political pressure from Israel’s right-wing, the Security Cabinet will convene in order to discuss the plan to expand the Palestinian city of Qalqilya in Area C. Last week, Likud and Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi ministers criticized the plan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Sunday morning that the Security Cabinet will hold another discussion on the plan to expand the Palestinian city of Qalqilya due to the political pressure from the right-wing and the fierce criticism voiced by Likud and Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi ministers. The decision was made during the Likud ministers’ meeting, hours before the protest held by the leaders of the West Bank settlements began.
According to the plan, the city will almost double in its size as up to 14,000 new apartments are built on 2,500 dunams (about 617 acres) in Area C, which is the part of the West Bank that is under Israel’s complete control. The construction is expected to increase the number of residents in the city by about 10,000. The assessment is that only half of the plan will actually be carried out but the Samaria Regional Council leaders are angry that no one talked to them about the initiative, which will expand the city toward the border of the Tzufin settlement.
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After Channel 2 News broke the story about the plan, several right-wing politicians voiced their opposition and criticized Netanyahu. They claimed that Netanyahu closed a secret deal with Washington to approve widespread Palestinian construction. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi party called the plan “a prize for terrorism.”
Bennett and Shaked said that even though Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed that the plan is part of a “carrot and stick method,” it advances “the Palestinian takeover of Area C.” They added: “There’s no doubt that the significance of the plan worsens when compared to the very limited amount of construction the prime minister has approved for the Israeli communities.”
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