No plan for new settlements in West Bank area evacuated in 2005: Israel

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Israel sought on Wednesday to calm international concern over its amending of a law that had ordered the 2005 evacuation of settlers from an area of the occupied West Bank, saying it had no intention of building new settlements there.

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Tuesdays repeal in parliament of elements of the “is engagement law” would in principle allow Israelis to return to the four evacuated settlements in the northern West Bank on condition of approval by the military.

That drew protests from the Palestinians, who seek statehood in the West Bank, as well as from Western powers that have been closely watching the impact on long-stalled peace-making of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right coalition government.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the Knesset vote “at long last put an end to the discriminatory and humiliating law that forbade Jews from living in areas of northern Samaria, which is part of its historic homeland.”

“With that said, the government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas.”

Most countries deem the settlements illegal for taking up land which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

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