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Israeli army to unite command in occupied Jerusalem area


The Israeli army said Monday it was creating a unified command in Palestinian areas adjoining occupied east Jerusalem after a rise in attacks launched from the area since 2015.

“The goal is to create a single regional brigade that will coordinate counterterrorism activities,” the army’s website said.

The army, the Israeli police and the Shin Bet security agency will work over the next two years to improve coordination along the Israeli barrier which surrounds the city on three sides, it said.

Then a unified army brigade will be placed in charge of West Bank villages immediately east of the barrier, including Abu Dis and al-Azariya, it added.

Left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz said the changes would also cover Palestinian areas within Jerusalem’s city limits, such as Shuafat refugee camp and Kufr Aqab.

The army said top officers had been drafting the plan for the past year.

That would long predate President Donald Trump’s controversial Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A proposed Israeli bill would remove Shuafat camp and Kufr Aqab from the Jerusalem municipal area, shifting city limits to encompass major Israeli settlements currently in the occupied West Bank.

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said that would add 150,000 Israelis to Jerusalem’s population, strengthening its Jewish majority.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Prominent members of Netanyahu’s coalition openly oppose the idea of a Palestinian state and advocate annexing most of the West Bank.