U.S. ambassador says Israel will keep settlement blocs

Friday, March 25, 2005 | 
The US says Israel will not have to return to the 1967 borders as demanded by the Palestinians and Arab states. Reiterating a promise from President Bush last year, US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer said Israel will hold on to some settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria under any peace deal with the Palestinians. “Any final status resolution of this conflict must reflect the new realities on the ground,” Kurtzer told Israel Radio. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's strategy is to withdraw from the Gaza Strip this summer, while tightening Israel's grip on the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Sharon is under fire from hawks who oppose the Gaza pullout, and the ambassador's statement is clearly aimed at giving the Prime Minister a boost.

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