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Despite sharp US criticism, Jews occupy more homes in contested Arab area of Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM — Residents in a contested neighborhood of east Jerusalem say Jewish settlers have moved into two buildings — a step that is likely to raise already heightened tensions in the volatile area.

Ateret Cohanim, an organization that settles Jews in Arab areas of east Jerusalem, said Monday that it facilitated the purchase of the two buildings. Spokesman Daniel Lurie says the buildings have nine apartments in all, and will double the Jewish presence in the section of the Silwan neighborhood.

Jewish settlers took over several homes in Silwan last month as well. The U.S. condemned the move as a provocation. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says residents may buy properties wherever they want.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967, a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital.

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