TEL AVIV, Israel, July 21 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Thursday called for expanding the West Bank settlement town of Ariel and its vicinity.
Sharon traveled to Ariel several hours before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel. The United States opposes settlement expansion as well as the government's desire to include Ariel within the security barrier it is building in and around the West Bank.
"This bloc will forever be part of the state of Israel. There is no other thought and no other intention," Sharon declared.
He added he had gone there "to make every effort to check the possibility of expanding the town and strengthening this bloc .... (which is) of supreme importance to Israel."