Israel has approved the construction of nearly 1,500 new homes in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the Associated Press reports. The move, Israeli officials say, is in response to the Palestinian unity government reached between Fatah and Hamas leadership, which was sworn in last week, and which has garnered widespread international support.
Netanyahu’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, said Thursday that tenders had been issued to build about 900 homes in the West Bank and about 560 more in east Jerusalem, territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war and which the Palestinians seek as parts of a future state.
In a statement, Ariel said the construction was a “fitting Zionist response to the formation of a Palestinian terror government.
Israel’s announced settlement construction has been condemned by political factions within Israel, and foreign allies like the United States, Britain, and France have expressed disappointment in the move.
The Palestinian unity coalition, on the other hand, has received a warm international reception since it was announced in April. A United Nations spokesperson officially welcomed the new coalition last week.
“The secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon) takes note of the renewed assurances yesterday by President Abbas that the government will continue to abide by those commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements,” he said.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly attributed an article to the Washington Post instead of the AP.