Israel Plans to Expand Settlements

West Bank building plans do not help peace talks with Palestinians
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2007 9:28 PM CST
Last month's peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders hosted in Annapolis, Maryland, by President Bush could be threatened by a budget proposal from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The road to Arab-Israeli peace could take yet another detour, the New York Times says, after Israel announced plans today to seek funding for the expansion of two Jewish settlements in areas Palestinians hope to claim for a future state. The two sides are expected to meet tomorrow, but Palestine’s chief negotiator warned the talks would have “no meaning” if Israel moves forward with its plans.

According to its 2008 budget proposal, Israel plans to build 500 apartments in a fiercely contested part of East Jerusalem and another 240 in Maale Adumim, its largest West Bank settlement and one it intends to keep under any long-term peace agreement. Israel also turned down calls for a Gaza cease-fire, refusing to negotiate directly with  Hamas, which controls the territory.