Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the US has increased its military aid to Tel Aviv by tens of millions of dollars.
“Three days ago, the US added another $75 million to the aid package,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday, without giving a timeframe for the money’s arrival.
The announcement comes just days after Netanyahu personally greeted US President Donald Trump on his first visit to Israel.
Trump had arrived from Saudi Arabia where he signed a massive $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh.
- Netanyahu greets Trump on his first trip to Israel
- US-Saudi Arabia seal weapons deal worth $110 billion
Based on a September 2016 agreement, the US will be bankrolling Israel’s military spending to the tune of around $38 billion dollars effective from 2019 for the next 10 years.
Under the deal, Israel will be allowed to upgrade most of its fighter aircraft, improve its ground forces’ mobility and strengthen its missile systems.
Washington has also been providing Israel with $3.1 billion annually since a 2007 agreement with the administration of former President George W. Bush.
In April, Washington approved a proposal to sell Israel more weapons, including naval guns and technical support worth an estimated $440 million.
Israel’s minister for military affairs says Tel Aviv does not require the US approval to build new settlements in the occupied West Bank, adding that plans for several thousand units could be advanced in two weeks.
“We did not ask for a green light, and we will not ask for a green light [from the US],” Avigdor Lieberman said in a Wednesday interview with Israel’s Army Radio.
The minister stressed that Israel will act according to its interests and dismissed reports about restrictions for the regime’s land grab policy.
The remarks came following US President Donald Trump’s two-day visit to East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Palestinian territories, during which Trump did not mention the word “settlements” or ask Israel to hold back on the 1967 borders.
According to informed sources, plans are underway to build 600 homes in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement in the near future for 38,000 people, making it the third largest settlement in the West Bank.
The sources said the White House is unlikely to oppose the plan.
Moreover, Hagit Ofran of Peace Now speculated that Israel could approve plans for 250 homes in the Kerem Rei’m outpost in the Talmon settlement in the West Bank.
Earlier in May, Israel appealed to the US to nullify UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories, a report says.
The Security Council approved Resolution 2334 in December 2016 by a vote of 14-0 with the US abstaining.
The resolution states that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, “had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of [the so-called] two states.”
It further demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem [al-Quds].”
However, the Tel Aviv regime has recently given the go-ahead to the construction of many settler units in the occupied territories in defiance of Resolution 2334.
Over half a million Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The continued expansion of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.
More clashes in West Bank
On Wednesday, clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces after several dozen Israeli men rallied through the Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The Israeli demonstrators were marking the 50th anniversary of the so-called Jerusalem Day when Israel captured the city’s eastern half, which includes Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.
Addressing the Knesset, just two days after Trump visited the holy site in East Jerusalem al-Quds, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the city’s Temple Mount and Western Wall will remain under Israel’s control “forever.”
The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem and Palestinians consider it as the future capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Over the past few years, the territories have been witnessing what is widely referred to as the Third Intifada or Palestinian Uprising against Israeli occupation.
The tensions broke out in August 2015 when Tel Aviv introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Israeli forces have been confronting the Palestinian protesters with unremitting aggression, killing more than 300 of them since October that year, when the clashes intensified.
Israel’s aggression and construction activities in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds are seen by Palestinians as a means of gradual annexation of their lands.