Israeli plans to build 455 new homes in the West Bank, defying U.S. demands for a freeze on construction in settlements.
The Palestinian Authority immediately condemned the move, saying it “undermines the belief that Israel is a credible partner for peace.” A settler leader pledged to fight any move by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt further building.
President Obama has demanded a total freeze of West Bank construction, and Palestinians say they won’t resume peace talks with Israel unless building is halted. Netanyahu has ruled out any new settlements, but believes construction in existing communities should be permitted.
The U.S. is trying to broker a deal in an effort to renew peace talks, which includes steps by Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to return to Israel for talks with Netanyahu on the settlement issue early next week.
Get more: Bloomberg News