Israel allows new settlement homes

Israeli Army Radio says 300 new homes sanctioned for Talmon settlement.

    Netanyahu, left, has defied Obama's call
    to declare a settlement freeze [EPA]

    Israeli defiance

    Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

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    The World Court has ruled all the settlements illegal and Barack Obama, the US president, has pressed Israel to halt all settlement activities as part of a bid to revive peace talks under which the Palestinians would gain independence alongside the Jewish state.

    Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has refused to declare a settlement freeze, which could spark a backlash within his rightist coalition government, many of whose members see the West Bank as a Jewish biblical birthright.

    Successive Israeli governments have vowed to keep settlement blocs under any peace deal.

    "The settlement expansion is a continuation of the Israeli policy that destroys the efforts being exerted, especially by President Obama," Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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