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Israel Approves West Bank Settlement Expansion


Israel has approved plans to build 3,500 new homes in the occupied West Bank, in a move Palestinians say sabotages efforts to rekindle the Mideast peace process.

The Israeli plan, approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, appears to clash with the U.S.-backed "Roadmap" peace plan. That plan calls for a halt to settlement expansion on all Palestinian land captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

There has been no U.S. comment on the move, which analysts say is aimed at linking the settlement of Maale Adumim to greater Jerusalem. Israel claims Jerusalem as its eternal capital, while Palestinians want Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Meanwhile, Israeli-Palestinian talks are expected to continue later today on the Israeli handover of security control in the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

Palestinians assumed control of Jericho last week.

Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters.

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