Fifty Israeli teenagers informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they will refuse to serve in the military because of its role in the occupation of Palestinian land in a letter on Saturday.
"The main reason for our refusal is our opposition to the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the army," they wrote in a letter to Netanyahu published by an Israeli pacifist group.
"Any military service perpetuates the current situation, and therefore we cannot take part in a system that carries out these deeds," read the letter posted on the Facebook page of Yesh Gvul.
Yesh Gvul (There is a limit) describes itself as a "peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature." Military service is compulsory in Israel, with men serving three years and women two.
The youths referred to "human rights violations" in the West Bank, including "executions, settlement construction, administrative detention, torture, collective punishment and unfair distribution of water and electricity."
Netanyahu refuses to halt settlement construction
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said Sunday he is opposed to freezing construction in settlements as a means to extend U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Palestinians, as a group of young Israelis made a public pledge to not serve in the military.
A settlement freeze "would serve nothing," Netanyahu told public radio.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been struggling to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree a framework for extending direct peace talks, launched in July, beyond an April 29 deadline.
But Israel and the Palestinians remain divided on all the major issues, including borders, security, settlements, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
Starts on new settlement building in the West Bank increased by 123.7 percent last year, according to recently-published data from Israel's statistics bureau.
Settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
Netanyahu, in an interview broadcast on Friday on Israel's Channel Two television, said his government would give up "some settlements" in the occupied West Bank to help secure a peace agreement.
He said, however, that he would limit as much as he could the number of enclaves removed. Palestinians say settlements that dot much of the West Bank landscape would bar them from establishing a contiguous state, a goal of the peace talks.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has said that his side would not agree to extend negotiations without Israel releasing further prisoners and halting settlement construction.
According to Netanyahu, who met with Kerry and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington last week, a framework agreement to extend talks would not necessitate Israeli and Palestinian signatures but rather only by "an American document on American positions."
Netanyahu said any peace deal with the Palestinians would take at least another year to negotiate.
Obama is due to meet Abbas on March 17 at the White House.
Abbas has rejected a core Netanyahu demand - recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinians fear such a condition will deny Palestinian refugees, who fled or were forced to flee their homes in Arab-Israeli wars, any right of return.
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