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Israel to push mobile companies to improve settlement coverage

The illegal Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov (foreground) in the northern area of east Jerusalem and Israel's controversial barrier separating the Palestinian neighbourhood of al-Ram (background) in the West Bank, on April 1, 2019. [AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP / Getty]
The illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Yaakov in the West Bank, on 1 April 2019 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP /Getty]

The Israeli government is set to press mobile phone companies to improve coverage for illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, reported business news site Globes.

According to the report, "one of the first tasks" for incoming Minister of Communications David Ansalem "is dealing with the poor mobile reception in Judea and Samaria [occupied West Bank]."

"Residents [i.e. Israeli settlers] of the area suffer from severe reception problems in certain places," Globes noted, "and claim that the situation sometimes becomes life-threatening".

Although mobile companies Cellcom, Partner and Hot previously pledged to the Ministry of Communications "that they would set up cellular sites in places where there are holes in reception", an audit by the ministry "found that the companies failed to abide by these undertakings".

READ: Illegal Israel settlements are 'neighbourhoods and cities' says US' Greenblatt

According to Globes, the delay is due to the costs of construction, "topographical and engineering difficulties", as well as vulnerability to "terrorist action".

The report states that settlers typically "demand that the [cellular] site[s] should be at a distance from their homes, which creates other problems".

The companies thus agreed "that all the sites to be constructed would serve all the companies, in order to reduce costs and provide proper service to all the companies' subscribers." Now, the government wants to know why the companies "have not kept up with the agreed work plan".

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