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Israel 'okays plans for over 550 East Jerusalem settler homes'

Feb. 5, 2014 4:39 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 6, 2014 10:34 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build more than 550 new homes in illegal settlements in annexed East Jerusalem, the city council said.

In a statement listing "building permits that were approved" during a local planning committee session, it said permits were granted to private contractors to build 386 units in Har Homa, 136 units in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev.

Issuing construction permits is one of the last stages before construction begins, with building likely to start in the coming weeks, Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog said.

Israel and the Palestinians began a round of direct peace talks at the end of July with the aim of reaching an agreement within nine months.

But the US-led negotiations have been overshadowed by Israel's refusal to rein in construction plans on occupied Palestinian land.

Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It considers all of Jerusalem its "eternal, undivided" capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.

Some 350,000 Jewish settlers live in West Bank settlements, in addition to another 200,000 Israelis settled in occupied and annexed East Jerusalem.

The international community views all settlement building on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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