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Israeli Government Makes West Bank Settlements a National Priority

The Israeli cabinet approved the national development priority map, adding to it more settlements in the West Bank.
Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Har Gilo, near Jerusalem July 18, 2013. Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which have ebbed and flowed for two decades, last broke down in late 2010, after a partial settlement halt meant to foster talks ended and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend it. Palestinians familiar with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' thinking speculated he might now forgo the demand for a settlement moratorium given a recent slowdown
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The settlement of Ma’ale Michmash was founded in 1981. About 1,300 people now live there, despite the Israeli housing shortage, despite the fact that it is situated in a scenic location, despite the high quality of life and concurrent low cost of living, and despite it being relatively accessible. Still, the settlement has been unable to draw thousands of new families for one simple reason: Ma’ale Michmash is situated east of Ramallah and surrounded by Palestinians. Most Israelis have no interest in living there. The settlement’s website states that its only neighbors are Jewish settlements; the settlement’s Palestinian neighbors receive no mention at all. In fact, the reality is completely different. In the 30 years of its existence, the settlement of Ma’ale Michmash has failed to attract more than a few hundred Israelis.

In an effort to increase the settlement’s population, it was included in the national priorities map released this week, Aug. 4, by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, along with such settlements as Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana. The Israeli government only declared those latter three settlements legal a year ago. According to figures released by the Judea and Samaria Council, representing the West Bank settlements, Sansana is home to some 46 families, another 100 families live in Bruchin and Rechelim has just 60 families. It would seem that these settlers are considered more valuable than the hundreds of thousands residents of Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi and other towns on the northern or southern periphery, which truly need substantial aid and preferential treatment in order to correct years of neglect.

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