The Israeli government has approved $18 million in extra funding for Jewish West Bank settlements.

David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says the funds were approved Sunday.

A statement from Netanyahu's office says the funding aims to assist small businesses, encourage tourism and strengthen security. It follows months of Palestinian attacks on civilians and soldiers.

Some 600,000 Jews live in settlements built on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem on lands Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers them to be illegal. Israel has faced strong criticism for their continued expansion.

Opposition lawmakers attacked the decision, saying that instead of boosting Israel's struggling periphery the government was pouring money into an enterprise that undermined Israel's security and international standing.