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Israel plans to legalize, expand outpost

An Israeli group says the government has formulated plans to legalize 60 existing homes at an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank and allow the construction of 240 other residences. Such a move would flout a U.S. demand for a settlement freeze. It would also bolster the claim by Palestinians that the unauthorized outposts are intended to permanently seize land they want as part of their future state. According to Bimkom, a private Israeli group that specializes in planning issues, the plans were approved by Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, and filed with authorities in April. The outpost is just several hundred yards from an established Israeli settlement and not far from Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government.

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