Israel approves more than 1,000 settlement homes

Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's housing minister has given final approval to construct more than 1,000 apartments in Jewish settlements, just three days before Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are to resume in Jerusalem.

Sunday's announcement said the new homes would be built in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967. The Palestinians want to establish their state in those areas, as well as the Gaza Strip.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel said nearly 800 apartments will be built in east Jerusalem and nearly 400 in several large West Bank settlements.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had long insisted he would not resume talks without an Israeli settlement freeze. In the end, he relented under intense U.S. pressure.

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