Israeli government spending on West Bank settlements has increased by 38% under prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to official figures disclosed as the cabinet voted to implement an austerity package of tax increases and budget cuts.
According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, obtained by the business newspaper Calcalist, spending on Jewish settlements in the West Bank was 1.1bn shekels in 2011, up from 0.8bn the previous two years. The overall state budget increased by 2.7% in 2011, Calcalist reported.
Last year's figure was well below a 2003 high of 2.1bn shekels, but since then there has been a steady decrease in settlement spending until 2011.
The money mainly goes on housing, education and services, such as transport and utilities. It does not include security costs.
According to a spokesperson for the Settlers Council quoted by Calcalist, the Jewish population in the West Bank has grown at a rate of 5% a year, almost two and a half times the population growth of Israel. more
Over half a million liters of industrial fuel are headed for the Gaza strip from Egypt, according to state run news agency MENA, making it one of the largest shipments since the beginning of the blockade on Gaza.
The containers travelled from Suez to Al-Awja border crossing in North Sinai on Monday.
“No legal document or agreement prevents Egypt from sending fuel to Gaza,” said Saeed Okasha, political expert at the Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, noting the legality of such a move from an international law standpoint.
“Such forms of aid to Gaza have been ongoing from the Egyptian side since the siege was started,” he added.
The increased shipment looks tied to President Mohamed Morsy’s strong relationship with Gaza’s Hamas government, but the fuel also forms part of over 5.5 million litres that have already traveled to Gaza from Egypt following a decision by the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, to supply Gaza with 20,000 tons of industrial fuel that has been in place since 7 June. more