Israel approves additional 942 settler homes in east Jerusalem.
"The Jerusalem municipality has approved a construction plan for 942 homes in Gilo," an existing illegal settlement in East Jerusalem, municipal councillor Yosef Pepe Alalu said. A city councillor was quoted as saying that construction would not begin for years.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are preparing to resume their peace talks Wednesday, as Israel moves forward with controversial plans to build more settlement homes.
The units are in addition to the 1,200 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday, in a move that has angered the Palestinians and drawn criticism from the international community.
A senior Palestinian official has said that the Middle East peace talks could "collapse" due to continuing Israeli settlement expansion.
"Settlement expansion goes against the US administration\’s pledges and threatens to cause the negotiations\’ collapse," Yasser Abed Rabbo told AFP news agency.
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the recent flap over illegal Israeli settlement announcements likely would not derail talks, which are scheduled to resume this week.
Kerry, on a trip to Colombia, sought to neutralise the atmosphere in the Middle East, noting that the settlement plans were "to some degree expected," and calling for both sides to resolve their major issues.
"We have known that there was going to be a continuation of some building in certain places, and I think the Palestinians understand that," the chief US diplomat said in Bogota.
Palestinians denounced the settlement plan, which both Washington and the European Union said was illegal and detrimental to peace efforts.
The Secretary of State urged Palestinians "not to react adversely" to Israel\’s announcement of new illegal settlement buildings, stressing the need to return to the negotiating table.
The last talks in 2010 broke down on the issue of illegal settlements, which are illegal under international law.
But he added: "I think one of the announcements or maybe one of them was outside of that level of expectation, and that\’s being discussed right now."
About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel\’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.