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Israel okays 37 more West Bank housing units
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08:07, September 24, 2009

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has authorized the construction of 37 additional housing units in a West Bank settlement, local news service Ynet reported Wednesday on its website.

The newly-approved housing units will be built in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron, said the report, without giving more details.

The report came one day after the tripartite summit in New York of U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with Obama calling for "restraining" settlement activity as opposed to Washington's previous demand to halt all settlement construction.

The Palestinian side has repeatedly said it will not return to the negotiating table before Israel freezes settlement construction.

Earlier this month, Barak approved the construction of 455 housing units in several Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The construction projects were approved despite Netanyahu's unofficial policy to refrain from granting fresh building permits in the West Bank, said Ynet.

Yariv Oppenheimer, Secretary-General of the Israeli anti-settlement Peace Now group, criticized Barak's decision, saying that the defense minister has become settlers' contractor.

"Building housing units in Karnei Shomron -- between (the West Bank towns of) Qalqilya and Nablus -- is a historic mistake that damages the two-state vision," said Oppenheimer, adding that "The Israeli government is single-handedly destroying any chance for a peace agreement and jeopardizing our relations with the United States."

Source: Xinhua

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