Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Israeli settlers disobey the order to stop building

Jewish settlers protest against the government order to stop building [6 January 2010]
Settlers have continued to build in defiance of a government order

At least 29 Israeli settlements in the West Bank are violating a government-ordered pause in building activity, the Israeli Defence Ministry has said.

The information was released in response to a question asked in Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

A pressure group says there are at least four more settlements disregarding the government order.

The group, Peace Now, says Jewish settlers are working during the night and on the sabbath to avoid notice.

Peace Now says building work is continuing in at least 33 settlements in violation of an order to stop made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November.

Stalled talks

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said they have learned the government was looking at ways to enforce the no-building rule.

In November, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a 10-month cessation of building new settlements.

According to Peace Now, building on existing settlements has continued.

The information was released by the defence ministry following a question asked by Haim Oron of the left-wing Meretz party.

US attempts to revive peace talks have stalled over the Jewish settlement issue.

Palestinians say they will not return to peace talks unless Israel stops settlement building in the West Bank.

Israel has a long-standing commitment under an existing peace plan to stop settlement growth.

But the Israeli government has temporarily curbed construction as a goodwill gesture, though not in East Jerusalem.

All settlements in the the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

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