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Israel will continue to allow some construction in West Bank settlements despite US calls for a freeze on its work, a government spokesman says.
Mark Regev said the fate of the settlements should be decided in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
His remarks appear to be a rebuff to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said all such activity should cease.
Israel is committed to stop all settlement construction under the 2003 US road map to peace.
"Israel ... will abide by its commitments not to build new settlements and to dismantle unauthorised outposts," he said. "As to existing settlements, their fate will be determined in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In the interim period, normal life must be allowed to continue in these communities."
Israel defines normal life as the construction of homes to accommodate the children of Jewish settlers when they grow up and marry. Critics say that almost nowhere else in the world is it considered a right to build a house next to your parents house.
Netanyahu has offered to remove 26 of more than 120 outpost settlements but both the US and Palestinians remain sceptical about Israeli commitments as similar promises have been made over recent years and repeatedly broken.
The former prime minister, Ariel Sharon, promised President George Bush to his face that the outposts would come down but instead the Israeli government continued to allow new ones to be constructed, often with the assistance of the military and other state authorities.
Originally posted by dooper
I don't understand all the fuss. It's Israeli land. Picked up in 1967. Title free and clear, nothing owed, all paid up.
Originally posted by Britguy
I ask you, all those gung-ho armchair warriors who side with Israeli action every time, what would you do if that was happening to your family?