Associated Press
The Statesman
July 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's deputy foreign minister says he believes international support for recognizing an independent Palestinian state at the U.N. this fall is waning.

Danny Ayalon has been leading Israel's international lobbying effort against the Palestinians. He says he has met with representatives from dozens of countries, and he believes many are not going to vote with the Palestinians.

With peace talks stalled, the Palestinians plan to ask U.N. member states to vote for recognition of an independent state. The vote is expected to be largely symbolic, but could isolate Israel.

A majority of countries is expected to support the Palestinians. But Ayalon says he expects Israel to get backing from much of the West.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel put out bids Monday to build 336 apartments in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a new blow to international efforts to get Israelis and Palestinians back to peace talks after months of deadlock over settlement construction.

Ariel Rosenberg, spokesman for the Ministry of Construction and Housing, said developers were being asked to compete to build 294 apartments in Betar Illit and 42 apartments in Karnei Shomron. Developers who submit the winning bids will then have to secure building permits for their plans before construction can begin.

He estimated ground would be broken within a year and that the construction would be completed in about three years.

Settlement construction has stymied peacemaking efforts for more than two years. Talks resumed briefly in September but broke down again after an Israeli moratorium on new construction expired.

The Palestinians say they won't negotiate while Israel builds on lands they want for a future state. Israel rejects that demand and says the future of settlements must be decided in negotiations. Some 500,000 Israelis now live in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, captured territories claimed by the Palestinians.

In the absence of negotiations, the Palestinians say they plan to seek U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state in September. That could deepen Israel's diplomatic isolation, but would be only a symbolic victory for the Palestinians, changing little for them on the ground.


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