The Israeli cabinet has approved a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allocate millions of dollars in extra funds to "national priority zones" in the West Bank.
The cabinet voted on Sunday to approve the proposal to include settlements in the list of communities designated as national priority zones, which entitles them to credits worth $41 million, AFP reported.
In its vote, the cabinet also decided to create a commission that will decide within 30 days on whether to include other communities inside Israel in the priority list, said a government official.
The move, which came just weeks after Israel imposed a ten-month moratorium on new buildings in the West Bank settlements, defies a call by Palestinians for a complete halt on settlements considered by the International community as illegal.
Netanyahu, however, claimed the plan to change Israel’s map of national priority areas does not signify a permanent stance on the future of these areas.
"We will determine the future of settlements only within the framework of a permanent agreement [with Palestinians]," he said, according to Army Radio.
Israel has repeatedly been called to halt the construction of illegal settlements including the so-called "natural growth" in existing settlements in the West Bank.
Tel Aviv, however, claimed that it is not constructing ‘new’ settlements but only building new units in the existing settlements.