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Israeli settlement construction doubles in 2013

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel central bureau of statistics says the number of housing starts in West Bank settlements more than doubled in 2013.

Monday's announcement comes hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington. The two have been at odds over Israel's settlement policies.

In its annual roundup of the Israeli housing market, the bureau said work began on 2,534 new housing units in the settlements in 2013, compared to 1,133 in 2012.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — territories captured by Israel in 1967 — for an independent state. The Palestinians consider settlements build beyond the pre-1967 lines to be illegal and an obstacle to peace. Netanyahu has refused to recognize these lines as a starting point.

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