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Israel Takes More Land in West Bank, Expands Settlements


Israel says it plans to build 2,500 more housing units in the West Bank - a move likely to make any peace negotiations more difficult.

Officials said Monday the decision was made earlier this month to expand the Efrat settlement, south of Jerusalem, declaring adjacent lands state property. Construction is not expected for several years.

Israel has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank despite earlier promises to stop building as part of peace efforts with the Palestinians. Israel says it supports expansion to accommodate population growth in areas it intends to keep in a final peace deal.

The announcement comes as Israeli President Shimon Peres gets set to announce whom he will choose to form the next ruling coalition.

He is holding consultations with political leaders after last week's election ended with no clear front-runner. Foreign Minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni edged out former Prime Minister and Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu by one seat.

Mr. Peres said Monday he will not give any indication of who he thinks will best be able to fill the slot until after election results are made final Wednesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP

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