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Israel must end illegal settlement construction - Moscow

Israel must end illegal settlement construction - Moscow
The Russian Foreign Ministry is concerned over Israeli plans to build more homes in East Jerusalem as an impediment to resuming Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, says a report posted on the ministry Web site.

"Israeli homes built on occupied lands, including in East Jerusalem, poison the atmosphere of the already complex relations between Palestinians and Israelis, and create additional impediments to resuming substantive negotiations," says a report posted on the ministry website on Friday.

Settlement construction on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem are illegal under international law, the ministry stressed, adding the construction calls into question the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and “must stop fully and immediately.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled his intention to dramatically boost Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

A commission of lawyers appointed by Netanyahu concluded in June that Israel's 45-year presence in the West Bank “did not amount to occupation,” thus paving the way for the legalization of unauthorized settlements.

The United States, Israel’s main ally on the international stage, also condemned the findings of the report.

Some fear that Netanyahu will accept the findings and attempt to retrospectively legalize scores of settlement “outposts” in the West Bank that were built without prior authorization.

Meanwhile, with international attention increasingly focused on developments in other parts of the Middle East, specifically in Syria, where rebel militants are fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, observers fear that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is being neglected.