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Dec 3, 2012 12:36 PM by AP

US slams Israel on new settlement plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is harshly criticizing its top Mideast ally Israel over new settlement construction plans.

The State Department said Monday that the plans are "especially damaging" to prospects for a resumption in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and run counter to longstanding U.S. policy.

Israel on Friday announced that it would move ahead on plans to build 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem on territory the Palestinians claim as theirs to punish the Palestinians for winning U.N. recognition. It also said it would begin planning work for a chunk of land east of Jerusalem known as E1, where construction would end hopes for an eventual Palestinian state to be contiguous.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said both sides should stop taking actions that hurt peace efforts.

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