Israel Allows West Bank Expansion

Israel's prime minister has announced the country will not halt the expansion of existing Jewish communities on the West Bank—although he says they will not build entirely new ones, either. Benjamin Netanyahu will allow construction of new homes for growing families until the country works out its peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, his spokesman said this weekend. President Obama asked him last week to stop unauthorized West Bank settlements and to halt all settlement construction in preparation for Mideast peace talks. The Israeli defense minister announced Sunday he would shut down unauthorized settlements, threatening to move resisters by force. About 300,000 Israelis live in 121 settlements in the West Bank, where Palestinians want to create their state. “The status of existing settlements is, of course, a final status issue to be negotiated, but, in the interim, normal life must continue in those communities,” said Netanyahu’s spokesman.