JERUSALEM (AFP) - A quarter of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank have begun new construction despite a government order banning new housing starts, an anti-settlement group said on Monday. The Israeli defence ministry, which is responsible for the occupied Palestinian territory, has documented violations in 29 settlements, the Peace Now group said in a statement. Peace Now also recorded five additional settlements to have violated the government orders, it said. In November, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month ban on new housing starts in settlements in a move aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the Palestinians after months of US pressure. But the Palestinians have dismissed the lull which excludes public buildings, construction already under way and annexed east Jerusalem as falling short of their demand of a full freeze before the stalled negotiations can resume. Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, are home to some 500,000 Israelis and are among the thorniest issues in the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday branded as an illusion the widely held idea the decades-old Middle East conflict can be ended with territorial compromise. It is not a coincidence that over the past 16 years no peace agreement has been reac-hed... Anyone who thinks peace can be reached by a territorial compromise is misleading himself and others, Lieberman told parliaments foreign affairs and defence committee. Today, when the Middle East is burning, anyone saying that we can swiftly reach an agreement through territorial concessions is sowing illusions, he was quoted by a senior official as saying. The hardline ministers remarks come as the United States struggles to get Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch peace negotiations that have been on ice for more than a year. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that she was hopeful serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would begin this year. With his comments, Lieberman appeared to be dismissing the idea Israel could strike peace with the Palestinians by withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, paving the way to the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories it captured during the 1967 Six Day War. Meanwhile, Britain said on Monday it was very concerned about the bizarre arrest of its national by the Hamas masters of Gaza as its representatives met the detained journalist in the enclave, officials said. Paul Martin was arrested on Sunday in a Gaza Strip courtroom while testifying for a Palestinian friend accused of collaborating with Israel, Hamas and British officials said.