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Israel promotes 272 more settlement apartments

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel has given final approval to building 272 new apartments in two isolated West Bank settlements, officials confirmed Monday, just as Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up his latest mediating mission to the region.

Kerry returned to Washington on Monday, after several days of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in hopes of forging the outlines of a peace deal. Kerry reported progress, but gaps remain.

Major Guy Inbar, an Israeli defense official, said the initial approval for new building in the settlements of Ofra and Karnei Shomron was given several months ago, suggesting Sunday’s publication of the plans for validation, a last step, was a formality.

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