U.S. says Israeli settlements in West Bank ‘counterproductive’

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The United States warned Israel on Thursday that its reported plans to build additional settlement housing in the West Bank were “counterproductive,” reported AFP.

“As the president said, Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace and that an independent Palestine must be viable, with real borders that have to be drawn,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell was quoted saying by AFP.

300 homes in the settlement of Beit El, which is near the West Bank capital Ramallah, were given the go ahead by Israel earlier on Thursday.

“The Civil Administration has given the green light for 296 housing units at Beit El, but this is only the first stage of a process before actual construction can begin,” he said, speaking on behalf of a unit within the defense ministry which administers the West Bank.

The settlements were allegedly part of a compensatory measure for settlers who had been evicted from their illegal homes in Ulpana last year. Ulpana, an unauthorized outpost located on the outskirts of Beit El, was evacuated on order of an Israeli High Court.

Peace Now an Israeli settlement watchdog in the country slammed the move.

“This initiative proves Netanyahu is deceiving the world,” Hagit Ofran told AFP.

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