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Report: 15,000 settlers moved into the West Bank in 2008

Oct. 6, 2008 10:31 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2008 10:31 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Some 15,000 Israelis moved into illegal settlements in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008, despite a pledge by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to halt settlement construction nearly one year ago, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv reported on Monday.

In an article titled "The silent settling" Ma'ariv reports that Olmert's pledge has made little difference in reigning in the growth of the settlements.

According to the Hebrew language newspaper, settlers were able to circumvent restrictions, such as taxes on construction, imposed by Olmert's government.

Olmert pledged to freeze settlement activity when he formally reentered negotiations with Palestinian leaders aimed at reaching a two-state resolution to the conflict. Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas launched negotiations at a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in the US, in November 2007, seeking to reach a final agreement by the end of 2008.

The negotiations were undermined from the start, however, by the continuous construction of settlements on Palestinian land occupied by Israel.

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