Mideast talks threatened as settlement ban expires

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Mideast talks threatened as settlement ban expires

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Israeli settlers have resumed building in the West Bank, defying warnings it may destroy peace talks with the Palestinians.

A 10-month construction freeze expired on Sunday despite international efforts to get Israel to extend it.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said that more settlement building would force him out of talks.

But Israel has asked him to climb down from that position. Israeli President Shimon Peres voiced his hope that whatever happens, “we cannot stop efforts to achieve a complete peace.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been under international pressure to stop settlement building, which is deemed illegal under international law.

But to do so would be deeply unpopular with pro-settler parties within his own coalition.

As one of around half a million Israeli West Bank settlers put it:

“We must build and not think what the world thinks of us. It’s the only way to succeed and the way we’ve always succeeded.”