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The country debates over sending more troops to Afghanistan

The New York Times reported Tuesday that President Obama may send 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan, but the final number will be announced Tuesday next week.


Obama said his approach to the war will be different from the previous administration's methods, although the goals of containing Al-Qaeda will be similar.


There has been heated discussion at the White House between Obama and his top aides, according to an administration official who said "there was a lot of back and forth" at a two-hour meeting earlier this week.


Even Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, said there was "serious unrest in our caucus about can we afford this war."


"The American people believe that if something is in our national security interest, we have to be able to afford it," she said.

According to a Wednesday Associated Press report, polls show Americans' support for the war has dropped significantly and most say the war is not worth fighting anymore.

In a Wednesday commentary for The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild said that "it would take at least ten times [the number of troops proposed] to have a decent chance of vanquishing the Taliban ... [it is] an enormous cost in U.S. and Afghan lives, and in U.S. tax dollars."

Calling Obama's choice a "muddle path," Rothschild added that only more civilian and U.S. soldier deaths would result "with no end in sight."

However, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that the troops will focus on securing areas taken from the Taliban so that U.S. forces can leave soon, according to the AP.

"We are not going to be there another eight or nine years," he said.



Debate over Israel's settlement freeze

Al Jazeera English reported Wednesday that Israel's prime minister announced a 10-month suspension to the construction of new settlement houses in the West Bank.


Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement came at a press conference Wednesday, during which he said the decision was made to encourage the peace process with the Palestinians.


Calling the move "far-reaching and painful," according to a Haaretz report, Netanyahu said construction would resume after the moratorium is over.


Despite the announcement, another Haaretz report said many Palestinian leaders are dissatisfied with the proposal because of its failure to halt construction in Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish a state capital in the future.


According to Al Jazeera, Israel's proposal excludes public buildings and the construction of 3,000 buildings that has already begun.

"This is not a moratorium," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Unfortunately, we hoped he would commit to a real settlement freeze so we can resume negotiations and he had a choice between settlements and peace and he chose settlements."


Netanyahu's announcement comes after pressure from the Obama administration to freeze settlements. Although the U.S. president has not made comments on the move yet, U.S. reactions have been mixed. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the move was disappointing because it is not a full freeze on construction, but he acknowledged its significance and potential positive impact, according to the BBC.



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