Conflict & Justice

Israel shuts West Bank seminary, fast-tracks settlements


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the opening of the winter session of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, on October 31, 2011 in Jerusalem.


Gali Tibbon

Israel has shut down a religious school in an ultranationalist settlement in the West Bank, saying students and staff "have been involved in violence against Palestinians and the Israeli military," The Associated Press reports.

The education department has also cut off funding to an adult seminary at the school in Yitzhar for teachings "inconsistent with Jewish, democratic and educational values" — including that the killing of Palestinians is justified under certain circumstances.

The move comes on the same day Israel announced the fast-tracking of construction on 2,000 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the new construction in the wake of a decision to grant Palestinians membership in Unesco — the U.N. Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization — RTT News reports.

Palestine was admitted as Unesco's 195th member by a 107-14 vote on Oct. 31, Bloomberg reports, in a move expected to boost the Palestinian campaign for international recognition of statehood.

The U.S., which opposes Palestinians' efforts to achieve statehood, saying they should first negotiate a peace agreement with Israel, announced it would withhold about $60 million from Unesco this year.

Bloomberg writes that:

[U.S.] Federal law prohibits funding U.N. organizations that treat the Palestine Liberation Organization as a member-state.

Earlier, it was reported that Israel had authorized its military "to take all necessary steps to stop rocket fire from Gaza," the AP reports.

The Israeli government decision stopped well short of ordering tanks to roll into Gaza, and it appeared unlikely that would happen, as rocket fire all but stopped over the past day.

(GlobalPost reports: Israel launches air strikes on Gaza hours after militants call truce)

Meanwhile, in response to Israel's decision to close the school in Yitzhar, religious officials there reportedly said that studies would continue at both the high school and the adult seminary.