JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build more than 550 new homes in illegal settlements in annexed East Jerusalem, the city council said.
In a statement listing "building permits that were approved" during a local planning committee session, it said permits were granted to private contractors to build 386 units in Har Homa, 136 units in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev.
Issuing construction permits is one of the last stages before construction begins, with building likely to start in the coming weeks, Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog said.
Israel and the Palestinians began a round of direct peace talks at the end of July with the aim of reaching an agreement within nine months.
But the US-led negotiations have been overshadowed by Israel's refusal to rein in construction plans on occupied Palestinian land. more