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July 11, 2012

U.S. says settlements are illegal

The U.S. announced it does not support the construction of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. (UPI/Debbie Hill)

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The United States does not support Israeli settlement activity and opposes legalization of the construction, a State Department official said.

"We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize outposts," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters in Washington Monday in response to an Israeli finding West Bank settlements cannot be considered illegal.

The 89-page report submitted to the Israeli government ministerial committee on settlements said Israelis "have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria, and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal," the report said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who appointed three experts to investigate the legal status of unauthorized West Bank Jewish building, praised the report's findings.

A copy of the report obtained by The Jerusalem Post revealed the committee focused its examination on Israel's obligations under international and domestic law and did not consider the peace process or past pledges to the international community, the paper said.

The committee advised the creation of new West Bank settlements should be decided by a government committee and approved by the defense minister or prime minister. Construction within the bounds of existing settlements would not require government approval, just approval from planning and zoning authorities, the paper said.

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