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U.S. says Israeli settlement activity not legitimate


09:17, June 14, 2013

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Continued settlement activity by Israel in the West Bank was not legitimate,the U.S. government said Thursday in the wake of a new Israeli settlement plan.

"The secretary has expressed his concern in the past both publicly and in private conversations," said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki at a briefing. "We don't accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity."

"We remain hopeful that both sides will look at the important opportunity we have here to build trust and confidence and move back to the negotiating table, and that's what our focus is on," she told reporters.

Israel is putting forward a plan to build 500 new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Bruchin in the West Bank. Palestinian officials blamed the move for "destroying U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive peace talks."

Under the plan, 500 new housing units will be built in Bruchin, established in 1999, near the Palestinian town of Salfit and 50 existing houses in the settlement will be approved retrospectively.

The peace talks between Israel and the Palestine collapsed in 2010 due to Israel's refusal to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Washington has been trying to revive the talks ever since, but so far no major breakthrough has been achieved.

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