JERUSALEM Feb 5 Israel's Jerusalem municipality
approved building plans on Wednesday for 558 new homes in the
occupied West Bank, land that the Palestinians want for a future
A municipality spokeswoman said the local planning committee
had approved requests by private contractors for the
construction work in the settlements of Har Homa, Neve Yaakov
and Pisgat Zeev.
The three settlements are in a part of the West Bank that
Israel annexed to Jerusalem, in a move that has not been
recognised internationally, after capturing the territory in the
1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians have said that expansion of Israeli
settlements, which most countries deem illegal, could derail
U.S.-sponsored peace talks which resumed in July after a
The municipality spokeswoman said that the initial plans for
the new dwellings had been approved years ago.
The Palestinians are seeking a state in East Jerusalem, the
West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel pulled its troops and settlers
out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, and the enclave is now run by
Hamas Islamists opposed to the present peace drive.
Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev are in one of the areas in the West
Bank that Israel says it intends to keep in any future
land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians.
Three weeks ago, Israel published tenders for 1,400 new
homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Anti-settlement
watchdog Peace Now said at that time that Israel had announced
plans for 5,349 new homes in those two areas since the peace
(Writing by Maayan Lubell, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)