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Israel plans more settler housing in E Jerusalem

A general view shows ongoing construction work at Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of Jerusalem. -- AFP
A general view shows ongoing construction work at Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of Jerusalem. -- AFP

TEL AVIV: Israel is pushing ahead with the construction of more settler housing in East Jerusalem, according to the human rights organization Peace Now.

The relevant planning committee of the municipality has approved plans for 3,557 new housing units, a spokeswoman for the organization confirmed on Thursday.

"All of these plans are bad news for the stability of Jerusalem and for the chances of peace," Peace Now wrote on its website.

Some of the planned housing units, however, are particularly problematic because they will make continuity between Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem impossible.

Israel's settlement policy is highly controversial. At the end of2016, the UN Security Council called on Israel to implement a complete settlement freeze in the occupied Palestinian territories,including annexed East Jerusalem.

Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among other territories, in 1967. Today, more than 600,000 Jewish settlers live there.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, want the territories for an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

In the West Bank as well as in the Arab-dominated eastern part of Jerusalem, there has been an increase in attacks by Palestinians recently.

A Palestinian man was killed in an Israeli raid in the area of the Palestinian city of Nablus on Thursday.

The young man was shot dead during confrontations with Israeli soldiers, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The autonomous Palestinian city of Nablus is in the northern section of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army said a suspect was arrested during the operation in Nablus.

"During the arrest, another armed suspect opened fire with live ammunition at the troops," the statement said. The soldiers fired back and "identified a hit," it said. None of the soldiers were injured, it said.

Meanwhile, the European Union has pledged 9 million euros ($10.16million) for the development of industrial zones in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources.

Of this, 2 million euros will go as an incentive to businessmen who want to invest in the industrial zones, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's office in Ramallah explained on Thursday.

However, the Palestinian Authority is based in Ramallah and, in effect, only governs the West Bank. The Palestinian organization Hamas is in control in the Gaza Strip with its approximately 2.1 million residents. -- dpa

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