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Israel moving ahead with new settler housing

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JERUSALEM — Israel is moving forward with plans to build more than 1,000 homes in two small isolated Jewish settlements deep in the West Bank, a spokesman said Thursday, as Palestinian officials complained that Israel is undercutting U.S. peace efforts at a sensitive time.

The announcement drew swift U.S. condemnation.

The settlements to be expanded, Itamar and Bruchin, are located in an area of the West Bank that would not be part of Israel in any foreseeable partition deal with the Palestinians. The building plans, which still need final approval, would increase the number of homes in both settlements far beyond any needs for accommodating natural population growth.

The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now initially reported the proposed expansions of the two settlements which the government confirmed.

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