Israel settlement 'surge' may punish Palestinians
ISRAEL is considering expanding its controversial settlement programme as part of an array of sanctions to punish the Palestinian Authority for joining UNESCO, the UN's cultural arm.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his inner cabinet yesterday to study a series of punitive measures.
The cabinet did not disclose what steps, if any, it had decided to take, but a senior official was quoted in the Israeli media as saying three options were to be discussed. They include a proposal to strip Palestinian leaders of their "VIP status", halt the transfer of tax revenues collected by Israel on the Palestinian Authority's behalf and a "surge" in settlement construction, either in East Jerusalem or the West Bank.
Any expansion of settlements would represent a further blow to the already remote hopes of reviving the Middle East peace process. The Palestinian Authority has demanded a total settlement freeze as a condition for returning to talks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)