New Israeli national priority map features many settlements

Sunday, December 13, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

In a move that was certain to anger the Obama Administration and the Arab world, Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a new national priorities map that included a number of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

The towns and communities highlighted on the map will in the coming years receive preferential government treatment, including efforts to boost education, housing, infrastructure and employment. Officials said the more isolated settlements that made it on the map - communities the international community expects Israel to uproot - were put there because they require additional security.

The settlement on the map are home to more than 120,000 Israelis.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposed the map, as did the other four Labor Party lawmakers in the cabinet. Barak complained that it "disproportionately represented" Jewish settlers, and was therefore a prize for what he called "right-wing extremism."

Barak's remark was representative of a worrying trend in Israel since the start of the peace process that has seen Israeli Jews sent to settle newly liberated lands by their own government turned into national pariah when later governments decided to surrender those lands in the name of peace.

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