Rice: Israel ‘understands’ settlement issue


Israel has taken steps to show it understands the seriousness of the settlement issue, Condoleezza Rice said.

“We have told the Israelis repeatedly that the settlement activity is both against U.S. policy and against the ‘road map’ obligations,” the U.S. secretary of state said Friday, referring to the U.S.-initiated “road map” peace plan. “And I would note that my understanding is that even the Israelis themselves have taken some decisions that suggest that they understand the seriousness of this issue.”

Rice may have been referring to a freeze Israel put recently on apartment building in Har Homa, an east Jerusalem neighborhood abutting Bethlehem.

Two days later, however, the proposed 2008 budget presented by Israel’s housing ministry included requests for funding to construct 500 apartments in Har Homa and 240 apartments in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Rice is accompanying President Bush next month on a visit to the region to promote U.S.-convened Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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