JERUSALEM, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Jerusalem Municipality approved the construction of 942 new housing units in Jewish settlements located in east Jerusalem, Israeli media reported Tuesday.
"We will continue issuing tenders for construction in Jerusalem and the settlements," a municipal official told the Times of Israel website.
The current plan to expand the neighborhood of Gilo, in southeast Jerusalem, will push it further toward the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, to the ire of Palestinians and the international community.
The plan, which was first authorized in December 2012, is one of the largest building projects to take place in Jerusalem.
The authorization is given just a day before Israel and the Palestinians are set to convene in Jerusalem for a second round of U.S.-brokered direct peace talks after nearly three years of stalemate. The first round was held in Washington on July 30.
On Sunday, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel permitted the construction of 1,200 new settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, jeopardizing the fate of direct talks.
In response, the U.S. State Department issued Monday a statement, in which it did "not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity."
For his part, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has recently exerted shuttle efforts to convince the two sides to go back to the negotiation table, warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that without making significant progress in talks with the Palestinians, Israel would be facing boycott and an international de-legitimization campaign, the U.S.-based Bloomberg magazine reported on Tuesday.