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Feb 14, 3:44 AM EST

Group: 1,800 housing starts in West Bank settlements in 2015


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JERUSALEM (AP) -- A watchdog group says Israel began building 1,800 new settlement homes in the West Bank in 2015.

Peace Now, a dovish Israeli group that tracks settlement construction, says most of the building has taken place in isolated settlements in areas of the West Bank that Israel would likely evacuate in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War and built settlements there. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but nearly 600,000 Israeli settlers remain in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Palestinians claim these areas as parts of a future state, a position that has wide global support. They say Israeli settlement construction is a sign of bad faith.

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