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Israel to Build New Homes in West Bank Settlements


Israeli officials say they are planning to build new housing units in the West Bank, despite calls to freeze all new settlement activity as part of Middle East peace efforts.

A published tender shows that Israel's Housing Ministry is seeking builders for 228 units in two settlements Beitar Illit and Efrat near East Jerusalem. Palestinians are hoping to use East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The United States has called on Israel to halt all settlement activity in occupied territories in an effort to advance the "road map" to Middle East peace.

Meanwhile, Israeli doctors say Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is to undergo a medical procedure in coming weeks to repair a minor birth defect in his heart.

The 77-year-old Israeli leader returned to work Sunday -- one week after suffering a stroke.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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