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Sanctions: Israel freezes 19 Palestinian construction projects

April 27, 2014 6:37 P.M. (Updated: April 29, 2014 2:19 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel on Sunday indicated it would freeze 19 Palestinian construction projects in the West Bank in an apparent effort to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority in response to a Hamas-PLO deal, Israeli media reported.

Yoav Mordechai, Israel's coordinator of government activities in the territories, said in a Civil Administration meeting that Israel would freeze 19 construction projects that were approved in Area C as a goodwill gesture at the start of peace talks with the PLO, the Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv reported.

Mordechai said Palestinians had started an "intifada" of illegal construction in the West Bank.

"It is our duty to apply the law on everyone including illegal settlement (outpost) construction in the West Bank," Mordechai said.

The move to freeze Palestinian construction in the West Bank would mark a third measure of sanctions against the PA since the beginning of April. On April 9, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave orders to Israeli officials to cut all contact with PA officials, allowing only "security coordination" to continue. The next day, Israel froze the transfer of tax revenues to the PA.

On Wednesday, the Fatah-led PLO and Hamas announced a national unity deal to end seven years of political division between the largest two Palestinian parties.

The deal infuriated Israel, which halted peace talks with the Palestinians and vowed other unspecified "measures" in response.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

There are some 100 settler outposts erected around the West Bank without Israeli government authorization.

Israel quietly "legalized" several outposts in 2012, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.

The international community regards all Israeli construction in Palestinian territory as illegal, whether government-approved or not.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
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