Israel approves 184 new settlement homes

JERUSALEM Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:43am EDT

1 of 2. A general view shows a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim November 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's Jerusalem municipality approved building plans on Wednesday for 184 new homes in two Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, land that the Palestinians want for a future state.

A municipality spokeswoman said the local planning committee had approved requests by private contractors who purchased the land years ago for the construction of 144 homes in Har Homa and 40 dwellings in Pisgat Zeev.

Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev settlements are in a part of the West Bank that Israel annexed to Jerusalem after capturing the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. The annexation was not recognized internationally.

Palestinians are seeking a state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They say Israeli settlements, regarded as illegal by most countries, could deny them a viable, contiguous state.

Israel regards Pisgat Zeev and Har Homa as neighborhoods of Jerusalem that it would keep under any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

The two sides resumed U.S.-brokered peace talks in July, but the negotiations appear to be going nowhere, with the future of settlements a major stumbling block.

More than 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are home to about 2.5 million Palestinians.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Gareth Jones)

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