Israel plans to build 3,500 new housing units that will connect the big settlement of Ma'ale Adumim to disputed East Jerusalem. It's part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's strategy to cement Israel's grip on the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, while getting rid of the overpopulated, violent and impoverished Gaza Strip. Settlement expansion violates the “roadmap” peace plan, but President Bush said last year that Israel could expect to keep some settlement blocs under a final peace accord.
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