Israel has approved plans to begin or complete 750 new homes in the occupied West Bank, posing yet another hurdle to the success of US-brokered Mideast peace talks, Reuters reports. Palestinian leaders immediately condemned the new construction in the Jewish settlement of Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem. "This will undermine the talks," warned a chief negotiator.
A US general is to convene meetings this week to determine if Israeli and Palestinian leaders are sticking to the peace "road map," which calls on Israel to stop settlement activity and on the Palestinians to halt attacks. The announcement yesterday by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert came 3 days after eight Yeshiva students were killed by a Palestinnian gunman. That followed days of Israeli missile attacks on the Gaza Strip that killed some 120 Palestinians, about half of them civilians.