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US: Israeli settlements not 'constructive'

After Jewish state legalizes 190 housing units in Shilo and approves construction of 500 more, State Department says wants to see 'comprehensive agreement that delineates borders'

The United States said Wednesday that Israel's settlement activity was not "constructive" for Middle East peace after a committee approved a plan for 500 new homes in the northern West Bank.


Earlier, Israel's Civil Administration approved the construction of 505 new housing units and legalized 190 units previously built in the West Bank settlement of Shilo.


A Defense Ministry official said that any further construction would call for the government's approval and therefore they do not expect any other units to be built anytime soon. The ministry also stated that the existing housing units were not built on private lands but rather on State-owned land.


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State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he was not familiar with the latest approval of settlements but reiterated that the United States opposes such moves.


"We don't believe it's in any way constructive to getting both sides back to the negotiating table," Toner told reporters.


"We want to see clearly a comprehensive settlement that delineates borders and resolves many of these issues," Toner said.


The Palestinian Authority and Israeli peace activists condemned the latest settlement approval, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is setting back the already slow diplomacy aimed at a two-state solution.


Israel considers settlement outposts built without government approval to be illegal and often sends security personnel to demolish them, although in recent months the government has announced its intention to retroactively legalize a number of them.


More than 310,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank.


The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama will meet Netanyahu on March 5.

Netanyahu will be in Washington to address the annual policy conference of the influential pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which will be held on March 4-6.


The announcement of the White House meeting came in a briefing of a weekend visit between Netanyahu and Obama's National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, in Jerusalem, amid heightened concern that Israel might attack Iran to thwart its nuclear program.


"Donilon and his delegation addressed the full range of security issues of mutual concern," the White House said. "The visit is part of the continuous and intensive dialogue between the United States and Israel and reflects our unshakable commitment to Israel's security."




פרסום ראשון: 02.22.12, 23:52
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