Israelis push settlement plans despite peace talks

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Israeli authorities have moved forward on giving final approval on plans to build nearly 1,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, an official said on Thursday.
He said initial approval had been granted by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon several months ago and plans were now being made public so that any objections could be raised before the process moves to the next stage.
Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said the move applied to 920 new homes, while 166 units that had already been built without going through the necessary procedure were given the preliminary approval retroactively.
The total of 1,086 homes was spread across seven settlements, the NGO’s Lior Amihai said.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said on Thursday that settlement building was “the willful destruction of any chances of peace.”
“If the US really wants peace they have to intervene immediately and effectively,” she told AFP.
Peace Now’s Amihai said the latest batch of approvals “showed the true intention of the government, putting a very heavy question mark on their intentions.”
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume peace talks in Jerusalem on Aug. 14, the US State Department said on Thursday.

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