"Efrat and Gush Etzion are integral parts of
greater Jerusalem," Israeli daily The
Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu saying.
"They are the southern gates of Jerusalem
and will always be part of the State of Israel.
We are building Efrat and Gush Etzion
with enthusiasm, faith and responsibility."
The Palestinian villages surrounding Efrat
and Gush Etzion fear plans to renew
construction of Israel's separation wall
around the settlements will result in their
displacement, or encirclement by the barrier.
Palestinian leaders insist that Israel must
halt all settlement expansion before
they can return to peace talks. Negotiations
have stalled since September 2010 when
Israel refused to renew a partial
freeze on Jewish settlements in the
occupied West Bank.
The international community has
repeatedly stated that Israeli
settlements threaten a two state
solution with the Palestinians
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Israeli PM: Bethlehem settlements will always be part of Israel
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