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Netanyahu mulls settlement building policy

Netanyahu mulls settlement building policy
United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon (L) and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad look over the controversial Israeli barrier in the distance during a tour in Ramallah, West Bank on March 20, 2010. The U.N. Chief Ban ki-Moon said that Israeli settlement building undermines peace efforts. UPI/Mohamad Torokman/Pool | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reached an understanding with the U.S. administration on limiting West Bank settlement construction, officials say.

Netanyahu has agreed that construction will be permitted to settlement blocs that Israel does not intend to evacuate in the framework of a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians, but will refrain from building in isolated settlements, the Maariv newspaper said Thursday.

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In recent days, Netanyahu held discussions with his advisers and U.S. officials on Israel's policy in the settlements after a 10-month construction freeze expires on Sept.26.

A senior U.S. official told the Israeli prime minister that construction should be permitted in the settlements Israel has no plans to evacuate, the newspaper said.

The initial proposal on Israel's policy on limiting construction in West Bank settlements was raised by Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor, a member of the seven ministerial Cabinet panel, the paper said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio he also supports Meridor's proposal, and believes Defense Minister Ehud Barak will also agree to permit building in settlement blocs Israel intends to maintain in the aftermath of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

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A senior government minister told Maariv, that many of the Cabinet ministers oppose such a move and insist that construction be permitted in all of the West Bank settlements in accordance with their needs, regardless of their location.

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