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Middle east

Israel rejects US calls for settlement freeze

©

Video by Marc DE CHALVRON , Guillaume AUDA

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-06-01

An Israeli minister close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would not heed US President Barack Obama's call to freeze all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as a step toward renewed peace talks.

There is a growing disagreement between Barack Obama and Netanyahu’s government in Israel over continued settler activity.

 

Israel refuses to stop building new homes in the West Bank as required by Washington, referring to a legal agreement to deal with the "natural growth" of the population. Israel also accuses President Obama of ignoring the commitments made by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

 

But for President Obama, the argument for “natural growth” is no longer applicable. The US president has demanded a freeze on all settlement activity.

 

FRANCE 24 reports on construction activity that is visibly growing in Giv'at Ze'ev, a settlement just north of Jerusalem. In the town centre, the local population wants the community to be allowed to expand. "Why is the natural growth of Jews less important than the natural growth of Arabs?" asks Yaacov Barut, a resident.

 

But Jeff Halper, a longtime peace activist, disagrees. He is watching the construction of a brand new neighbourhood with 800 apartments. Halper thinks the idea of natural growth isn’t necessarily valid, saying that the people who come to live in the new apartments are not “all children of Giv'at Ze’ev”.

Date created : 2009-06-01

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