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Construction of 558 new homes in East Jerusalem approved

Plans to build 558 new housing units in three settlements in East Jerusalem have been approved by Israel's Planning and Building Committee.

These include 386 units in Jabal Abu Ghneim, Har Homa, 136 in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev. The granting of permits is one of the last stages before construction begins, with building likely to start in the coming weeks, the Israeli Peace Now settlement watchdog said.

"It's a shameful decision at a shameful time. A government that wants a two-state solution would not issue those amount of permits for East Jerusalem neighbourhoods," Peace Now spokesman Lior Amihai said.

"Israel is engaging in the deliberate provocation of the Palestinians to drive them to leave the negotiations in protest of Israeli violations, and, therefore, should be blamed for the destruction of the peace process," senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

According to figures from Peace Now, in the six months since US-led peace talks began on July 29, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advanced plans for 7,302 new homes, including 4,880 in the West Bank and 2,422 in East Jerusalem.

In the same period, tenders were issued for 4,460 new homes, 2,372 in the West Bank and 2,088 in East Jerusalem.

Figures for the whole of 2013 show that 2,433 new East Jerusalem homes were pushed through various stages of the lengthy planning process – indicating that almost all of them were advanced after the talks started.

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