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New israeli settlements could threaten peace

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New Israeli settlements could threaten roadmap

Jerusalem, Israel, Mar. 21 (UPI) -- The American Task Force on Palestine said Monday Israel's decision to construct new homes in greater Jerusalem could scuttle recent diplomatic progress.

"Israel should not view its Gaza withdrawal as a quid pro quo for increasing settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," a task force news release said.

A leading Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported last week Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had approved the construction of 3,500 new homes to secure greater Jerusalem.

The project would reportedly be constructed between occupied Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim, in breach of Israel's commitments under the roadmap for peace promoted by President Bush.

An aerial photographic survey commissioned by the Israeli Defense Ministry confirms an additional 3,000 new homes are currently being built in existing West Bank settlements, according to the Ha'aretz news service.

ATFP reaffirmed its position that a resolution on the future of Jerusalem "can only come about through direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials as an expression of their national policies."

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