Israel advances plans for 2,269 West Bank homes
Palestinian children sit overlooking the West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun - AFP/File

JERUSALEM, Israel: Israel has moved forward in planning for more than 2,000 new housing units in six West Bank settlements, an official said Thursday, which is likely to further endanger peace talks with the Palestinians.

Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the defense ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, said a ministry committee had furthered existing plans for 2,269 homes at a meeting last month.

Inbar confirmed claims by Peace Now about decisions on two sets of projects, which the settlement watchdog said the committee had examined on February 19.

In the first case, the committee approved for validation 1,015 units in Leshem, Beit El and Almog, meaning the only remaining formality for their final approval is the okay of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

The same committee approved for deposit 1,254 units in Ariel, Shvut Rachel and Shavei Shomron, meaning those projects will now be published in the media for public comment before returning to the committee for further discussion.

Peace Now’s Lior Amihai told AFP the new units would create “facts on the ground that distance us from the two-state solution” and were further proof Israel had “no intention to reach a peace agreement and was doing everything it could to force Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas out of the process.”

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