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Israel to approve 1,200 settlement homes in West Bank

Israel's defence minister says he will present a 2018 construction plan of 1,285 housing units in occupied West Bank.

Israel is set to approve the construction of more than one thousand settlement units in the occupied West Bank, the defence ministry said.

"The defence minister will on Wednesday present for approval by the Higher Planning Council an immediate construction plan for 2018 of 1,285 housing units in Judea and Samaria," the defence ministry said in a statement, referring to the West Bank.

Avigdor Lieberman, the defence minister, said he will seek the approval of Israeli authorities on building a further 2,500 units in 20 different locations.

The Higher Planning Council meets several times a year to study and approve settlement construction projects.

There was no immediate response from Palestinian officials.

Last June, Lieberman said that plans in 2017 had been advanced for 8,345 homes in the occupied West Bank, including 3,066 slated for "immediate construction".

Peace Now, an Israeli non-governmental organisation that is opposed to settlements, announced that 6,742 construction units were approved in the settlements in 2017, the highest since 2013.

In 2016, the number was 2,629 units.

Settlements are illegal under international law, and are considered major stumbling blocks to the resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, which have been stalled since April 2014.

To date, there are 600,000 settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, an Israeli settler residing in the Israeli settlement outpost of Havat Gilad, near Nablus, was shot in a drive-by shooting.

The settler, a 35-year-old rabbi, later died in hospital in Tel Aviv. The Israeli army declared the area southwest of Nablus a military zone and carried out raids in the Palestinian villages of Tell and Sarra, in search of suspects.


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