Wednesday, August 29

Israeli PM: Bethlehem settlements will always be part of Israel

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) Benjamin Netanyahu 
visited the Bethlehem-area settlement of
 Efrat on Monday, and insisted it and a nearby 
bloc of other settlements would forever remain 
part of the Israeli state, according to media reports.

"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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