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Israel defied its Western allies Tuesday by expanding the number of officially sanctioned settlements in the West Bank for the first time in 12 years.
Ignoring U.S. pleas made only the day before, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, took the unprecedented step of retroactively legalizing three settler outposts built on Palestinian land.
The announcement represented a significant victory for the radical pro-settler lobby in Netanyahu's right-wing coalition government, but was seen by Palestinian officials as a particularly provocative rebuff to their latest conditions for peace talks.
Most were built by radical settlers, often on privately owned Palestinian land, with the intention of staking Judaism's God-given claim to the Holy Land in its entirety.