Obama national security aide chides Israel over settlements

President Barack Obama's topnational security aide on Thursday blamed Israeli settlementexpansion announcements for some of the latest tensions betweenIsrael and the Palestinians as US-brokered peace talks betweenthe two sides have faltered.

In a speech to a Washington think tank, Susan Rice, Obama'snational security adviser, said the United States remainedcommitted to Middle East peacemaking, but made clear that it sawJewish settlement construction plans as hampering those efforts.

"We have seen increased tensions on the ground. Some of thisis a result of recent settlement announcements. So let mereiterate: The United States does not accept the legitimacy ofcontinued Israeli settlement activity," she said.

Her remarks to a conference of the Middle East Institutedrew applause from an audience that included former and currentUS officials, foreign diplomats, some from Arab countries, andregional experts.

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