Israel expands its plans for West Bank settlement

Israel Wednesday announced expansion of its controversial program to settle Jews in the occupied West Bank, despite criticism from the United States and Western Europe.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Mikhail Dekel said construction would begin soon near the Arab town of Jenin. He said the Israeli government is encouraging a new kind of settlement - not small villages providing employment for most of their inhabitants, but suburban neighborhoods close to main population centers inside Israel. Mr. Dekel said the government expected the West Bank Jewish population to triple to 75,000 within the next three years. Israel has some 110 settlements in the West Bank.

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