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Israel\'s mini-cabinet decides to let settlement freeze expire

IDF kills senior Hamas commander in West Bank

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Israel\'s mini-cabinet decides to let settlement freeze expire

While IDF troops battled efforts by Hamas terrorists to derail renewed peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, Israel's inner security cabinet make a crucial decision to let the government's ten-month settlement freeze expire when it ends on September 26.

IDF forces killed a top military commander of the Hamas terror militia in the West Bank on Thursday night near the PA-controlled city of Tulkarm.

The IDF spokesperson’s office said Iyad Abu Shalabiya, who has spent several years in Israeli prisons and was wanted for questioning, approached the troops in a threatening manner and ignored warnings to halt. During the operation twelve other suspects were taken into custody.

Hamas has quickly vowed to avenge the militia commanders death, while the PA has complained that the IDF operation risks undermining Palestinian trust in the renewed peace talks.

The IDF operation occurred as sources in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Friday that the inner security cabinet, known as the ‘septet,’ has decided not to bow to mounting pressure from the US, EU and the Arab world to extend Israel’s self imposed moratorium on new building in Jewish communities in the West Bank past its September 26th deadline.

Top Obama administration officials visiting Jerusalem this week had urged Israel to extend the freeze, even for the next three months, but also acknowledged that Netanyahu had political constraints which needed to be considered by the Palestinian side. They had hoped the Palestinians might make some gesture to give Netanyahu a reason to justify extending the freeze to his public, but none seems to have surfaced.

“There can be no progress in the peace process while Israel is building in the settlements and creating new facts on the ground,” responded a PA official. “A partial freeze is also unacceptable.”

In related news, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) responsible for supporting Palestinian populations in refugee camps scattered all over the Middle East is reportedly begging oil rich sheikdoms in the Persian Gulf to give them the money they need to meet budget.

“Arab donors - we ask that... you raise the level of your contributions to our core activities, especially health, education and poverty relief," UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi told Arab League foreign ministers gathered in Cairo on Thursday. "Increased support for UNRWA is a matter in which you, as political actors, share a major stake. We ask that your governments assume their appropriate place as financial supporters of UNRWA services. Without sufficient funds... there may well be dire consequences that will adversely affect not only refugees, but also the communities and countries that host them."

Some 95% of UNRWA’s budget comes from Western donors, primarily the US.

Meanwhile, the World Bank's governing board on Thursday authorized an additional $40 million grant for budget support for the Palestinian Authority. A strong warning about the sustainability of growth in Gaza and the West Bank was also issued by the development institution in its latest report to the upcoming Ad Hoc Liaison Committee donor meeting on September 21 in New York.


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