Fishermen ride a boat while sail into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Israel expanded the fishing zone for Gaza's fishermen from six nautical miles to nine miles for the two-month season. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Latest: White House envoy arrives in Egypt

October 19, 2017 - 12:12 pm

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Egyptian airport officials say a White House envoy has arrived in Cairo to discuss the latest developments in Palestinian reconciliation efforts mediated by Egypt.

The officials say that Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt arrived on Thursday. His visit comes after Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas reached a preliminary agreement under Egyptian auspices that could put President Mahmoud Abbas back in charge of the Gaza strip.

Greenblatt is expected to meet senior Cairo officials. The airport officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Palestinian reconciliation deal could ease the decade-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the densely populated coastal strip and facilitate peace talks between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Negotiations to end the split between Fatah and Hamas have faltered in the past.

—Menna Zaki in Cairo;

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5:15 p.m.

A White House official says that Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt has left for Egypt to meet with senior officials there to discuss the status of Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

Egypt has been mediating talks between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas. Last week, the sides announced a preliminary agreement to put the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority back in charge of Gaza. But many key issues remain unresolved, most importantly Hamas' massive arsenal.

Earlier Thursday, Greenblatt said the next Palestinian government must renounce violence and commit to negotiations with Israel — conditions that Hamas has always rejected.

The White House official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The official did not say whether Greenblatt had yet arrived in Cairo.

—Josef Federman in Jerusalem;

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2:45 p.m.

Germany is criticizing Israel's plans to build some 3,000 new housing units in West Bank settlements, saying they undermine the possibility of a two-state solution to the long conflict with the Palestinians.

The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now says that Israel this week advanced plans for the new units. The German Foreign Ministry called Thursday for Israel to refrain from going ahead with the plans.

The ministry says new "settlements are not the only obstacle to a two-state solution, but each new housing unit consolidates a one-state reality in which the Palestinians are denied the ability to fully exercise their political rights."

Germany is an important Israel ally and also enjoys good relations with the Palestinians. It has long supported the two-state solution and spoken out against new settlements.

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2:30 p.m.

An Israeli anti-settlement monitoring group says Israel has advanced plans this week to build nearly 3,000 new homes in the West Bank — eclipsing the number of homes that were approved during all of last year.

Peace Now says in a report that the homes are at various stages of approval and that some are in isolated settlements deep inside the West Bank.

In all, it says 6,742 settlement homes have been advanced this year, compared with 2,629 last year and 1,982 the year before.

The Palestinians and most of the international community consider settlements illegal obstacles to peace. Israel and the Obama administration frequently feuded over settlement construction.

President Donald Trump has taken a different position, urging some restraint but not a complete halt to construction.

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10:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump's special Mideast envoy says if Hamas wants to play a role in any Palestinian government it must renounce violence and commit to peaceful negotiations with Israel.

Jason Greenblatt's statement Thursday was the first American comment on the advancing reconciliation efforts between the rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions, and echoed Israeli demands.

Greenblatt says Hamas must meet the international demands to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements with it. He says "it must accept these basic requirements" to take part in government. Hamas has always refused similar demands in the past.

Under Egyptian auspices, the Palestinian factions last week announced a preliminary agreement and have formed committees to sort out unresolved issues, most notably who will control Hamas' massive weapons arsenal. Talks continue with Fatah.

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