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Israel to build 1,300 new settler homes in West Bank

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

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

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

Final approval is expected from the defense ministry this week for those homes.

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

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day 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 Jewish homes are to be built in seven settlements, according to the ministry statement.

Israeli colonization of the West Bank and annexed 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.

Read more: Israeli minister says reopening of US Palestinian mission in Jerusalem may not happen