Israel announces plan for 1,300 homes across seven West Bank settlements
Israel announced on Sunday it is planning to construct more than 1,300 homes in the occupied West Bank, adding to thousands already pledged in August.
"Tenders for 1,355 homes in Judea and Samaria have been published," a construction ministry statement said, referencing the biblical names used widely in Israel for the West Bank.
The new homes are to be built in seven settlements, according to the statement.
The new accommodation adds to the more than 2,000 residences, which defence sources said in August would be authorised for settlers in the occupied territory.
Final approval for those homes is expected from the defence ministry this week.
A government planning committee is also expected in the coming week to discuss the proposals for about 3,000 other new settlement units, Reuters reported on Sunday.
A US State Department spokesman said on Friday such steps may raise tensions and hurt efforts to reach a peace deal.
The West Bank-based Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the new settlement plans could have a "catastrophic impact on chances to make peace on the basis of the two-state solution and on regional, U.S, and international efforts to build confidence between the Israeli and Palestinian sides".
About 475,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal under international law, on land Palestinians claim as part of their future state.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 war and exercises full administrative control across much of the territory, where more than two million Palestinians live.
Palestinian statehood rejected
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the former head of a settler lobby group who since June has led a government coalition of parties ranging from the far right to the left, opposes Palestinian statehood.
Bennett has ruled out formal peace talks with the Palestinian Authority during his tenure, saying he prefers to focus on economic improvements.
Sunday's announcement comes after Israel last week gave approval for 4,000 Palestinians to register as residents of the West Bank, the first such move in the occupied territory in 12 years.
Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem has continued under every Israeli government since 1967.
Construction accelerated, however, in the last few years under former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.