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Israelis Rally in Support of Settlement Building

Israeli right-wing activists protest in Jerusalem in support of the rabbis' letter forbidding Jews from selling or renting property to non-Jews as well as to hail settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, 23 Dec 2010

Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in Jerusalem to protest any renewal of a Jewish settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem.

The protesters, who rallied late Thursday, also voiced support for a letter signed by dozens of Israeli rabbis this month that would forbid the rental of homes to non-Jews.

The protest comes in the wake of increased tensions between Israelis and Palestinians over settlement construction, a key issue in U.S.-mediated peace talks between the two sides.

Direct talks between the two sides broke down after an Israeli freeze on West Bank settlement building expired in September. Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state.

Palestinians want a state that would include the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem -- land captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel has not agreed to those conditions.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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