JERUSALEM, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Israel has approved to build 1, 220 new housing units in its largest settlement in the West Bank, local media said on Thursday.
Out of the total, the Civil Administration, Israel's governing body in occupied West Bank, approved 839 housing units in a new neighborhood of Ariel, the largest settlement there.
Some 31 housing units will be built in Almog, in the northern Dead Sea. Additional 350 housing units are planned to be built in Rahel, north of Ramallah.
The plan was initiated by the hawkish Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, a prominent proponent of the settlement movement and former Secretary General of Yesha, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of the settlements.
Earlier Wednesday the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee just approved the construction of 184 new housing units beyond the Green Line.
The settlement issue tops the U.S.-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which restarted last summer after a three-year halt of Israel's construction in the West Bank.
The approval came at a critical time when the talks are on the verge of collapse.
The settlements are deemed by international law as illegal and are dubbed by the international community as an obstacle to peace. The Palestinians charge that the expansion of the settlements makes the implantation of two-state solution impossible.