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Israel plan for new settler homes despite Bush's demand

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Israel has announced plans to build 22 more homes in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

This comes a week after US President George W Bush called on Israel to stop all settlement expansion in line with commitments made under the roadmap.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the plan, announced on Thursday, undermined efforts to revive talks.

He urged the international community to try to stop the building at the Maale Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is pushing ahead with plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip but has said Israel will hold on to parts of the West Bank, including the Maale Adumim settlement and another at Ariel, to the north of Jerusalem.

In April, Israel unveiled plans for 3,500 extra homes on occupied land near Maale Adumim - the largest Israeli settlement in the West Bank - forming a corridor to Jerusalem.

Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza since 1967.

The international community considers all settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Abbas health

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has played down the significance of a minor heart procedure he underwent on Wednesday in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

A smiling Mr Abbas told reporters outside the hospital that he was in very good health and that doctors had found nothing wrong.

Initial reports late on Wednesday said Mr Abbas had undergone an angioplasty, a routine procedure where a small balloon is inserted to open a constricted blood vessel.

But it has now emerged the procedure was an angiogram, where a catheter is inserted to check if a blockage exists.

Mr Abbas has no history of serious heart disease, but has battled with cancer and eye disorders in the past.


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