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Middle East

Settlement construction will continue, say new Israeli ministers

media West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem Reuters/Baz Ratner

Two ministers in Israel’s new governing coalition declared yesterday that settlement expansion in the Palestinian Territories will continue under the new government. The statements come as some Palestinians are calling on US President Barack Obama to press Israel to stop settlement construction during his forthcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank.

Freshly appointed Israeli Housing Minister for Housing Uri Ariel told Israel’s Channel 10 that he sees no reason why Israeli policy shouldn’t continue as it was under the previous government.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Even so, he argued construction in the West Bank was “not the main story” for his plans as Housing Minister.

On Monday, hours before being sworn in as Deputy minister for defense, Danny Dayon also told reporters that settlement expansion will continue. He also stated an intention to increase the Jewish population in areas within Israel with a traditionally high number of Palestinians.

Dayon also argued that, due to Palestinian demands of a settlement freeze prior to negotiations, Israel lacks what he termed a “partner” for peace talks. The Member of the Knesset stated that Obama would see this for himself during his visit.

West Bank settlements have been frequently condemned as a violation of international law.

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