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Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News: "Israel builds 800 housing units in West Bank settlements"

by Mohammed Mar'I, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Oct. 6--RAMALLAH -- The anti-settlement Israeli watchdog Peace Now on Monday said 800 housing units have been built in West Bank settlements in the last three months. The movement said in a press statement, after its activists toured a construction site in the West Bank settlement Nokdim not far from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's home,...

the new the construction work has been done on 800 housing units in 34 settlements in the past three months, in addition to the construction work recently authorized by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Barak approved last September the construction of 455 new housing units in West Bank settlements.

Early Monday, Palestinian sources told the daily Yediot Ahronot that the United States has reiterated its commitment to the Palestinian Authority in recent days to reach a peace deal with Israel within two years, based on the Road Map and the 1967 borders.

The sources said that in light of the PA's position on the Goldstone Report on Israeli war in Gaza, the Americans said they would continue to pressure Israel in the matter of settlements, and said this would be put into action in the coming days with special Middle East envoy George Mitchell's visit to the region.

The Palestinian Authority and its heads have been the subject of much criticism both from within and from various external Arab sources, who claim the PA is behind the deferral of a vote in the UN Human Rights Council on passing the Goldstone Report to the General Assembly for further action.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the establishment of a committee to probe the matter, which he himself was accused of being responsible for.

The Palestinian sources said the Americans repeatedly stressed over the past few days their committed to the peace process. They also stressed, according to the sources, that in exchange for the deferral of the hearing of the report, the Israelis would be pressured to stop construction in settlements.

The sources refused to comment on whether there was a direct link between the PA's stance on the report and the American commitment to pressure Israel.