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Israel Continues to Build Settlements Despite US Criticism

Construction crews continue to build new homes in the large Israeli settlement of Maaleh Adumim in the occupied West Bank the day after President Bush called for a halt to such work.

Mr. Bush, right, and Mr. Sharon in Texas
Monday, Mr. Bush told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during their joint news conference in Texas that the construction violates the international peace plan known as the road map.  Mr. Sharon acknowledged the criticism, but gave no indication that he would stop the building.

Palestinians have strongly opposed the construction near Jerusalem.  At the same time, Israeli protesters have vowed to foil Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip and four small West Bank settlements.

Israeli opponents of the withdrawal Tuesday chained shut 167 Tel Aviv-area schools.  Police quickly cut the locks, and Israel's education minister denounced involving schools in the protests.

Meanwhile, Israel's foreign minister has urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to support Palestinian moderates and to help Israel improve relations with the Arab world.

After meeting with Mr. Mubarak in Cairo, Silvan Shalom said he asked the Egyptian leader to use his influence to ensure Palestinian moderates set the agenda instead of extremist factions opposed to the peace process.

The Cairo meeting comes after an improvement in relations between the two countries in recent months.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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