A section of the controversial Israeli barrier runs along the Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank, as seen from Jerusalem, on Jan. 3, 2014. The Israeli Housing Ministry published on Friday tenders for the construction of 1,400 housing units in the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. (Xinhua/Muammar Awad)
JERUSALEM, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli Housing Ministry published on Friday tenders for the construction of 1,400 housing units in the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
As many as 600 units are to be built in east Jerusalem's neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and the remaining 800 would be built in the settlement blocks in the West Bank.
The announcement is made just several days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left the region. His visit was aiming to achieve a framework for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The decision to build more housing units in the settlements was announced earlier this month, as Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a U.S.-brokered deal to resume its peace talks with the Palestinians.
The move is considered by government critics as appeasement to the far-right elements in the ruling coalition, namely the Jewish Home, who object to a halt in the settlement construction.
Netanyahu had postponed the announcement amid Kerry's visit, as the new housing announcement may trigger the anger of the United States and of the Palestinian authority.
Following the publication of the tenders on Friday morning, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid wrote in his Facebook page that these announcements are "devoid of content" and called them a "bad idea."
Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks in July 2013 after a three-year halt in contacts due to Israel's construction in the West Bank settlements.
The talks, which were expected to lead to an interim agreement by April, have suffered hardships due to Israel's continued construction in the settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.