Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel will continue to build homes in existing West Bank settlements, defying U.S. calls to halt settlement growth.
The comments came days after a contentious visit to the White House and threatened to widen a growing rift with the Obama administration. The United States considers the settlements obstacles to peace since they are built on captured territory the Palestinians claim.
Netanyahu told the weekly meeting of his Cabinet that he would not allow new settlements, but said existing settlements must be allowed to expand for "natural growth," the ill-defined term Israel uses for population growth in the settlements.
"We will not build new settlements," he said, according to remarks released by his office. "But it is not fair not to provide a solution to natural growth."
The issue is sure to come up this week when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas goes to the White House. Abbas has said there is no point to meeting with Netanyahu unless he freezes settlement construction.
Pyongyang claims nuclear test success
North Korea said today it had successfully conducted a nuclear test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency reported that the test was carried out today.
Lee Dong-kwan, a spokesman for the South Korean president, said that a nuclear test may have been carried out in the North. President Lee Myung-bak called an emergency security session.
Tamil Tigers confirm their leader's killing
The defeated Tamil Tiger rebels confirmed Sunday that their supreme leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed in their final battle against Sri Lankan troops.
Last week the government declared it killed Prabhakaran, but many Tamils didn't believe it.
Prabhakaran, who was 54, was seldom seen in public. The army says he was among the last to die in the civil war's final battle on Tuesday.
11 killed in stampede after stadium concert
Thousands of spectators stampeded out of a concert in the capital, Rabat, the MAP news agency said Sunday. Eleven people were killed and about 30 injured. The report said two children were among the dead. As many as 70,000 people had been attending a concert by Moroccan star Abdelaziz Stati at Rabat's Hay Nahda stadium, the report said.