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Israel approves 1000 new settlements

The Israeli Government has approved up to 1000 new settlements three days before peace talks with the Palestinians resume in Jerusalem.

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Obama: 'Hard work' ahead of Middle East peace talks

President Obama described the talks as 'a promising step forward'. Credit: Ron Sachs/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

President Obama says Israeli and Palestinian negotiators face "hard work and hard choices" in direct peace talks set to open in Washington tonight.

The meeting comes after a divided Israeli Cabinet agreed to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners convicted of deadly attacks.

"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination," Mr Obama said in a statement.

The US president said he believed peace between the two parties was both "possible and necessary."

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