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Israel legalizes three more West Bank settlement outposts

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The government has also this month authorized the construction of 980 more housing units in territory occupied since the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Israeli officials have insisted during recent trips to the US that claims of settlement expansion under Mr. Netanyahu is exaggerated. But the view from Israel and the occupied West Bank tells a different story.

Netanyahu's government is also fighting an Israeli Supreme Court decision calling for the destruction of six government-subsidized apartment buildings in the illegal outpost of Ulpana. Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to lodge an appeal of the court decision before next week, when the evacuation of the homes is currently scheduled.

The expanding de facto annexation of the West Bank, has a growing number of influential people both among the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and from Israel, questioning the feasibility of the "two-state" solution to the conflict. Last week Mr. Abbas sent a letter to Netanyahu demanding an end to settlement expansion and an Israeli acceptance of pre-1967 borders as the basis of a settlement as preconditions for peace talks. Those conditions are similar to the position of both the Obama Administration and past US governments.

Israel dismissed the letter, reiterating that talks should have no preconditions attached. Now, the relationship between PA President Abbas and his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who appears to favor a tougher line, appears to be breaking down. The US State Department has responded to the new settlements as "not helpful."

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