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Israel to build over 1,300 new West Bank settler units

By AFP - Oct 24,2021 - Last updated at Oct 24,2021

This file photo taken on July 16, shows a view of the Israeli settlement of Efrat on the southern outskirts of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel plans to build more settler units for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, a government ministry said Sunday, adding to those announced in August by the new ruling coalition.

"Tenders for 1,355 units in Judea and Samaria have been published," a construction ministry statement said, referencing the biblical names used widely in Israel for the West Bank.

The new accommodation adds to the more than 2,000 settler units which defence sources said in August would be authorised for settlers in the West Bank.

Final approval is expected from the defence ministry this week for those units.

About 475,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law, on land Palestinians consider as part of their future state.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the June War of 1967 and exercises full administrative control across much of the territory, where more than two million Palestinians live.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the former head of a settler lobby group, opposes Palestinian statehood and has ruled out formal peace talks with the Palestinian Authority during his tenure, saying he prefers to focus on economic improvements.

The tenders come after Israel last week gave approval for 4,000 Palestinians to register as residents of the West Bank, the first such move in the Israeli-occupied territory in 12 years.

The new units are to be built in seven settlements, according to the ministry statement.

Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem has continued under every Israeli government since 1967.

Construction accelerated, however, in the last few years under former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Since mid-June his successor Bennett has led a coalition of parties, ranging from the far right to leftist.

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