Israel intends to build 117 homes in the big Jewish settlement of Ariel near Tel Aviv. It's part of a master plan that envisions the construction of 3,000 apartments in Ariel. The plan underscores Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's strategy: to abandon violent and overpopulated Gaza, while strengthening Israel's grip on the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. "All the prime ministers have built the settlement blocs, but I built more than all of them," Sharon told mayors from his ruling Likud party. "Settlement continues there and will continue." Sharon is trying to strengthen his position among Likud hawks, as he faces a challenge for the party leadership from former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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