JERUSALEM, Feb 13: Israel's security cabinet announced on Sunday that it would legalise nine settlements in the occupied West Bank following a series of attacks in east Jerusalem, including one that killed three Israelis, reports BSS/AFP.
"In response to the murderous terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the security cabinet decided unanimously to authorise nine communities in Judea and Samaria," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement that included the name Israel uses for the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
These so-called "wild" settlements were built without authorisation from the Israeli government.
"The Civil Administration Higher Planning Committee will be convened in the coming days to approve the construction of new residential units in existing communities in Judea and Samaria," the statement said.
It said the "security cabinet made a series of additional decisions in the framework of the determined fight against terrorism" including strengthening security forces in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu said earlier Sunday during a meeting of his government he wanted to "strengthen settlements", which are illegal under international law.
More than 475,000 Israelis reside in settlements in the West Bank, where 2.8 million Palestinians live.
The measures apply to Israeli Arabs as well as to Palestinians with resident status in east Jerusalem, part of the city annexed by Israel.
This announcement comes amid an outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
A Palestinian killed three Israelis, including two children, in an attack on Friday in Ramot, a Jewish settlement neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, and Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in a raid in the northern West Bank on Sunday.
Since the beginning of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of at least 46 Palestinians (including combatants and civilians), nine Israeli civilians and one Ukrainian woman, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli and Palestinian sources.