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Israeli settler housing in West Bank 'counterproductive': US

A partial view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El on May 9, 2013
A partial view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El on May 9 2013. The United States warned Israel on Thursday that its reported plans to build additional settlement housing in the West Bank were "counterproductive."

The United States warned Israel on Thursday that its reported plans to build additional settlement housing in the West Bank were "counterproductive."

"As the president said, Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace and that an independent Palestine must be viable, with real borders that have to be drawn," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

The comment came after Israeli officials announced plans for nearly 300 new settler homes near Ramallah, angering the Palestinian Authority, which accused Israel of trying to "sabotage" US moves to rekindle peace talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly ordered a freeze on tenders for new West Bank settler homes to avoid harming efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.

But a spokesman for a defense ministry unit which administers the West Bank said: "The Civil Administration has given the green light for 296 housing units at Beit El."

He said the plan was announced last year as a compensatory measure after the government ordered the evacuation of the unauthorized Ulpana outpost on the outskirts of Beit El.

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