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Israel rebuffs call for settlement freeze

An Israeli government spokesman says Israel will continue some construction work in West Bank settlements, despite an unusually blunt U.S. call for a complete settlement freeze.

world Updated: May 28, 2009 14:18 IST

An Israeli government spokesman says Israel will continue some construction work in West Bank settlements, despite an unusually blunt U.S. call for a complete settlement freeze.

Spokesman Mark Regev says the fate of existing settlements will be decided in peace negotiations but that in the meantime, "normal life" in the settlements "must be allowed to continue." His remarks Thursday appeared to be a rebuff to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said the U.S. wants a halt to all settlement construction - including their "natural growth." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will continue to allow "natural growth" in the settlements. The vaguely defined term refers to further construction at existing sites.