MASKIOT, West Bank (AP) – Israel has begun laying the foundations for a new Jewish settlement deep in the West Bank – breaking a promise to Washington while strengthening its hold on a stretch of desert it wants to keep as it draws its final borders.

The construction of Maskiot comes at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seeks U.S. backing for eventually annexing parts of the West Bank as part of a plan to set Israel’s eastern border with or without Palestinian consent.

The Palestinians and Israel’s settlement watchdog group Peace Now say the Maskiot construction amounts to a new attempt to push Israel’s future border deeper into the West Bank. ”It’s about grabbing land,” said Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now.


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