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Thousands Of Israelis Protest U.S. Building-Freeze Proposal


Israeli riot police detain a protester after Israeli students rallied against a plan to continue the construction freeze in the West Bank.
Thousands of Jewish settlers held a mass demonstration today outside Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office to protest the new temporary settlement building ban proposed by the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has proposed a new 90-day ban on building in the West Bank in exchange for political and military benefits.

The proposal comes as part of a U.S. effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which stalled three weeks after they began after an Israeli building moratorium expired in late September.

Israel has not yet officially responded to the offer, but Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas today criticized the proposal, saying he will not resume talks if the freeze does not extend to annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

The French news agency AFP quotes Abbas as saying Palestinians "reject the idea of linking these bargains to the resumption of negotiations" and if, as he said, "the issue is a matter of weapons for one side or another, then we don't accept it."

Officials say today's protest drew thousands, many of them teenage settlers.

compiled from agency reports