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Israel plans homes in West Bank

The Jerusalem municipality on Monday announced plans to build hundreds of new homes in the occupied West Bank settlement of Pisgat Zeev, further clouding peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The announcement came during a visit to the Middle East by Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, aimed at pushing Israelis and Palestinians to take more steps to reach a peace accord by the end of the year.

Ms Rice, commenting on the project during a press conference in Amman, called on Israel to stop building settlements. “We continue to state America’s position that settlement activity should stop, that its expansion should stop – that is indeed not consistent with ‘roadmap’ obligations,” Ms Rice said, referring to the internationally agreed framework unveiled in 2003.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have shown little tangible progress since a US-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November. Negotiations have been undermined by growing tensions over the expansion of settlements on occupied land and by violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that

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