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Israel orders housing after UNESCO move

Wed., Nov. 2, 2011, midnight

JERUSALEM – Following a successful Palestinian bid to join the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, Israel said Tuesday that it would retaliate by issuing tenders for about 2,000 new housing units on land it seized during the 1967 Mideast War.

After meeting with advisers, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would order the construction of new apartments in the Jerusalem area and the West Bank settlements of Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim.

The government also temporarily suspended payment this month to the Palestinian Authority of about $100 million in tax transfers that Israel collects on behalf of Palestinians.

Israeli officials said the moves came in response to the Palestinian campaign to seek international statehood recognition from U.N. entities and other international organizations. On Monday, UNESCO became the first such entity to afford Palestinians membership as a state.

Israel and the U.S. have opposed such efforts, saying that Palestinians will only end the Israeli occupation and secure statehood through direct negotiations.

After UNESCO’s vote, the U.S. announced that it would suspend payment next month of about $60 million to UNESCO, in keeping with a 1990s law that bans U.S. financing of U.N. agencies that grant statehood status to Palestinians.


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