A local Israeli committee on Wednesday approved plans for the construction of more than 3,500 settler housing units in eastern Jerusalem al Quds, according to Peace Now, an anti-settlement monitoring group.
Peace Now said the construction of the homes would largely cut off the city from the southern part of the occupied West Bank, further complicating any efforts to create a functioning Palestinian state. The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to refrain from settlement construction.
The projects were approved by a municipal committee and will be considered by a district committee on Jan. 17. It would likely be years before any construction takes place, but Peace Now says once the approval process is underway, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop.
One plan would build 1,465 housing units between Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, two especially controversial settlements, further cutting off eastern Jerusalem al Quds from the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the southern West Bank. Another 2,092 homes would be built elsewhere in eastern Jerusalem al Quds.
Israel captured eastern Jerusalem al Quds and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians want for their future state.
The Palestinians view settlements in eastern Jerusalem al Quds and the occupied West Bank as a major obstacle to peace. Most of the international community considers the settlements to be a violation of international law.
The last serious peace negotiations broke down more than a decade ago.