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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to approve new Jewish settlements on the eve of a possible settlement freeze is the latest round in a cycle that has been repeated so many times over the past 40 years that it would seem mundane if it were not so dangerous.

The cycle goes something like this: American or international pressure mounts on Israel to stop settlement activities in the occupied territories. Israeli settlers and their supporters then gather even more energy to expand onto more Palestinian land, build more exclusively Jewish settlements, and destroy more Arab homes before the “freeze” comes into effect.

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