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The Mideast

Israel investing in disputed West Bank sites

Mideast Israel Palestinians jan 14.JPG

Jan. 14, 2013 - Israeli border police stand guard at the site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the West Bank city of Hebron.AP

The Israeli government says it is moving forward on a plan to invest in places it considers part of Israel's national heritage, including nine West Bank sites.

Israeli Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser says Israel is adding handicapped access to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site in the West Bank city of Hebron sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The announcement comes a week before Israeli elections and could appeal to hard-line voters.

Hauser said Monday that Israel has an obligation to renovate the sites, and it is not related to politics.

The U.S. objected to Israel's initial 2010 announcement on the plan, saying it impeded peace efforts. Palestinian protesters later clashed with Israeli troops in Hebron, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned the move could spark a religious war.