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Israel approves 3,000 settlers homes in West Bank

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-02-01 07:30

JERUSALEM -- Israel approved on Tuesday the construction of 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, amidst a spate of settlement expansion in the wake of the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

According to a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the approval is "part of returning to normal life" in the West Bank, after some construction projects were put on hold during the term of Barack Obama's administration.

Their statement was released hours before the expected eviction of the illegal Jewish outpost of AMona, east of Ramallah, and was widely viewed by local media as a mean to appease hardline settlers.

The new approval was given to construction projects throughout the West Bank, including 150 units in Pisgat Ze'ev, a settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, 650 units in Beitar Illit, east of Jerusalem, 700 units in Alfey Menashe in the central West Bank, and 650 units in Beit Aryeh in the northern West Bank.

About 2,000 of units are ready to be marketed immediately, and the rest are in earlier stages of reviews by planning and construction committees, the statement said.

Last Tuesday, days after Trump was sworn into office, Lieberman and Netanyahu gave the green light to 2,500 other housing units.

"We are in a new era in which life in Judea and Samaria goes back to the normal track, and from now on we give a proper response to the needs in that area," Lieberman said in the statement.

The settlements are illegal under international law because they are built on lands seized by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War, where the Palestinians wish to form their future state.

The former US administration criticized Israel's continuous expansion of the settlements, which it considered as a major obstacle to peace.

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