BEIJING, Aug. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Israel has given final approval for nearly 1,200 new apartments to be built in East Jerusalem and a number of settlements in the West Bank. The approval comes just two days ahead of a planned release of Palestinian prisoners.
Sunday’s announcement is the third by Israel in a week, bringing forward plans for new homes in controlled territories. 793 homes are to be built in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel shortly after the 6-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967. 394 homes will be built in several large West Bank settlements.
The Palestinians have called the decision "proof" that the Israeli government is not serious about peace. Negotiators from both sides are due to meet again on Wednesday in Jerusalem. The issue of Israeli settlements is a key stumbling block to peace negotiations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently dropped his demand for a freeze on settlement construction, in return for Israel’s release of inmates serving long sentences. Israel has promised to free a total of 104 prisoners in four stages.