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Netanyahu: Pressure over settlements growing

JTA

February 28, 2011 | 3:08 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said international pressure over West Bank construction is growing and criticized settlers seeking new construction tenders.

Netanyahu also said during a meeting of Likud Party ministers that the government would try to preserve existing construction.

“We are currently making efforts to maintain the existing construction, but we must understand that we are in a very difficult international reality,” Netanyahu said Monday.

The comments came a week after the U.N. Security Council voted to approve a resolution condemning Israeli settlements and continued West Bank construction. The United States thwarted the measure, however, with a veto; the other 14 council members had voted for the resolution.

“The U.S. veto in the U.N. Security Council was achieved with great effort,” Netanyahu said. “We could ignore everything and say ‘no problem,’ but as prime minister with responsibility for this country, I have the overall responsibility.

“When there is a changing world order in the Middle East, there are those who seek an easy but irresponsible solution, and we won’t help them with that,” Netanyahu said, referring to settler leaders who are pushing new West Bank construction projects.

Mideast Quartet officials are planning to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators later this week in an effort to jump-start the peace process; Netanyahu has not yet said whether he will send a representative to Brussels, since he has not been provided with an agenda for the meeting.

Also Monday, eight settlers were arrested and 15 wounded in clashes with police during the demolition of three illegal structures on the illegal outpost of Gilad Farm in the northern West Bank. Settlers said that police used unnecessary force, including rubber bullets and tear gas, in the evacuation.

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