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UK foreign minister: Israel settlement build 'deeply disappointing'

Aug. 15, 2011 11:32 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 15, 2011 11:54 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- UK Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned Israel's approval of a new batch of settlement homes in East Jerusalem, in a statement released late Friday.

The decision was "deeply disappointing," Hague said.

"I am concerned that Israel has ignored the international community’s calls for an end to this settlement action.

"At a time when all parties should be striving to return to talks, this announcement undermines trust and -- by illegally changing the situation on the ground -- threatens the two state solution for which we are working hard."

Israel's interior ministry announced its sanction of 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, and impending approval of 2,000 more in Givat Hamatos and 700 in Pisgat Zeev on Thursday, a week after 900 housing units were announced in Har Homa.

Each settlement fringes East Jerusalem, a strategic location for Israeli authorities who claim the whole city as their capital, while Palestinians insist the east be the capital of their future state.

Negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis have stalled since Israel renewed construction of settlement in September 2010. Palestinian officials argue they cannot enter talks while Israel builds on lands they claim for an independent Palestinian state.
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