Israel approves 381 new settler homes in east Jerusalem
JERUSALEM - Israel's government has approved plans to build 381 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Tuesday.
"The Israeli civil administration, which falls under the defence ministry, has published plans for the construction of 381 extra units in Givat Zeev," said Peace Now spokesman Lior Amihai.
"This is the third time since the last phase of Palestinian prisoner releases that the government has approved plans for new houses," Amihai said.
Israel on January 6 approved plans for 272 new homes in West Bank settlements, followed on January 10 by the unveiling of plans to build more than 1,800 new units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The announcements followed the release by Israel on December 31 of 26 Palestinian prisoners, as part of US-brokered peace talks.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas later claimed Israel was using the peace talks as a "cover" to expand settlements in the West Bank.
The controversial decision to press ahead with settlement building despite international censure prompted Britain, Italy, France and Spain to summon Israeli ambassadors in protest, with the Jewish state subsequently calling in European ambassadors in a tit-for-tat move.
The international community considers all settlements built on land seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War to be illegal.