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Israel okays plans for over 550 east Jerusalem settler homes

Israel on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build more than 550 new homes in settlement neighbourhoods of annexed east Jerusalem, the city council said.

JERUSALEM: Israel on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build more than 550 new homes in settlement neighbourhoods of annexed east Jerusalem, the city council said.

In a statement listing "building permits that were approved" during a local planning committee session, it said permits were granted to private contractors to build 386 units in Har Homa, 136 units in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev.

Issuing construction permits is one of the last stages before construction begins, with building likely to start in the coming weeks, Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog said.

Israel and the Palestinians began a round of direct peace talks at the end of July with the aim of reaching an agreement within nine months.

But the US-led negotiations have been overshadowed by Israel's refusal to rein in construction plans on land the Palestinians want for a future state, and the sides have been at loggerheads over a number of other issues, including security.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It considers all of Jerusalem its "eternal, undivided" capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.

But the Palestinians want east Jerusalem for the capital of their promised state, and they -- along with the international community -- consider settlement construction there as well as in the West Bank a violation of international law.

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