Agence France Presse (AFP)
October 11, 2007 - 2:40pm

The United States refused to immediately comment Wednesday on Israel's decision to confiscate Arab land near Jerusalem, one day before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to head to the region.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that Washington had not yet determined what its official reaction would be.

"(I'm) still looking into it," he said. "I want to understand better the facts on the ground from our people in the field."

"As soon as I have those, I'll be happy to provide you with a reaction."

Israel on Tuesday ordered the confiscation of Arab land outside east Jerusalem, officials said, reviving fears that the occupied West Bank could be split in two and challenging peace overtures.

The appropriation orders came as Israelis and Palestinians prepare for a major US-sponsored international peace summit widely expected in Maryland next month, and were immediately criticized by Arab authorities.

Washington's silence contrasts with the reaction by France, Egypt and Jordan, all of which have denounced the land grab.

Rice was due to depart Washington Thursday for Moscow and the Middle East, hoping to lay the groundwork for the peace meeting.


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