The Herald Bulletin

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June 13, 2013

Israel moving ahead with new settler housing



"This Israeli government is destroying the two-state solution and the prospects of a peace deal in deeds and words," he said. "They (Israelis) say they have the right to build anywhere they want in the West Bank, and then they say 'let's go to negotiations' while they continue building settlements on our lands, and then they blame us if we say that there can be no negotiations with the continuation of the settlement activities."

Senior Israeli government officials were traveling with Netanyahu in Poland and not immediately available for comment. An official in Netanyahu's office said he was not authorized to comment on the record.

More than 550,000 Israelis live in dozens of settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, a majority in larger communities close to Israel's pre-1967 frontier. In addition, the West Bank is dotted with smaller settlements, such as Bruchin and Itamar, as well as dozens of outposts not formally sanctioned by the government that would likely have to be dismantled in any partition deal.

Kerry has been searching for a formula that would bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. It is expected to include a slowdown in settlement construction, security guarantees to Israel and economic incentives to the Palestinians.

Kerry has urged both sides to avoid provocative actions that could hurt the negotiating climate.

"Certainly we find this unhelpful," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of the latest building plans.

"I think the secretary himself made very clear the last couple of times he's spoken about this that both sides need to make tough choices. And it's on them to make the decision about whether they're willing to move back to the table," she added.

The international community considers Israeli settlements on war-won lands illegal or illegitimate.

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