Israel advances plans for 1,213 new West Bank settlement homes

JERUSALEM Tue Nov 6, 2012 3:23am EST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has announced plans to press ahead with construction of 1,213 homes on annexed West Bank land, defying international opposition to its settlement policies.

The Israel Land Administration on Monday published notices inviting bids from contractors to build on plots in Ramot and Pisgat Zeev, urban settlements that Israel has declared part of Jerusalem.

The plans call for the building of 607 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 606 in Ramot. Tens of thousands of Israelis already live in the two areas.

The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said on Tuesday that an additional tender for the construction of 72 homes in the West Bank settlement of Ariel was reissued on Monday after a previous notice failed to attract winning bidders.

Palestinians want to create a state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital but they say Israeli settlement building will cripple the viability of any future country.

Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the West Bank, which it captured in a 1967 war. Some 500,000 settlers and about 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Most countries consider settlements Israel has built in occupied territory as illegal under international law.

(Writing by Ori Lewis, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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