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U.S. Opposes Israeli Settlement Plans

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met this week with U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk to discuss American opposition to the Israeli government’s settlement policy.

Wednesday’s meeting took place one day after U.S. State Department spokesman Glyn Davies issued a statement that Washington considered Israel’s recently announced plan to expand the West Bank settlement of Immanuel as less than “helpful to the negotiating process” between Israel and the Palestinians.

During his meeting with Netanyahu, Indyk said Davies’ comment reflected longstanding U.S. opposition to Israeli settlement expansion.

Netanyahu spokesman David Bar Illan later voiced Israel’s disagreement with the American position.

Illan said he found the American stance “puzzling,” saying that the Clinton administration had not objected to the expansion of settlements under the previous Labor-led government.

Meanwhile, a land dispute re-erupted this week over Israeli plans to expand the West Bank settlement of Efrat.

Jewish settlers and local Palestinians brought in competing teams of bulldozers in their attempts to lay claim to several hillsides around Efrat.

The hilltops were the site of continuing demonstrations last year, when settlers and Palestinians took turns staking their claims and building encampments on the hilltops.

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