Israel plans to develop tourist magnets in the West Bank despite pledging to temporarily halt settlement construction in the occupied territories.
Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov announced the plans, hot on the heels of a decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement expansions for 10 months, the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday.
Misezhnikov said the ban had to exclude construction of public buildings in settlements or construction in Jerusalem Al-Quds.
He went on to say that the areas to be built on include Judea and Samaria, “the stalagmite cave in Ariel, the Herodion in Gush Etzion and Qasr al-Yahud near Ma’aleh Adumim.”
He added, “The agreement to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria created an important diplomatic achievement for Israel.”
The decision followed another contradictory post-ban move by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak through which he allowed the construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements.
The West Bank has been dotted with Israeli-built dividing walls and checkpoints that severely restrict the Palestinian people’s movement, while completely closing off 38 percent of the area to them.