In Israel, no settlement deal for US envoy – just more settlers
During Mitchell's visit, activists set up 11 outposts. A report said the number of Israelis living in the West Bank has surpassed 300,000.
US Mideast envoy George Mitchell wrapped up three days of talks here on Tuesday, heralding "good progress" in his meetings with Israeli officials. But he made no mention of a much anticipated agreement on the most visible point of contention in recent weeks and a key issue for Arabs: freezing settlement construction in the West Bank.
One of the main goals of Mr. Mitchell's visit, part of a regional trip that includes stops in Arab Gulf states later this week, had been to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to stop the expansion of settlements – a move President Obama sees as a jumping-off point to getting Israeli and Palestinian leaders to agree on a two-state solution. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he will not return to talks with Israel unless such a freeze is instituted.
Figures released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this week indicate that settlements grew at a rate of 2.3 percent for the first half of this year, pushing the total number of Israelis living in West Bank settlements above 300,000 for the first time.