US Secretary of State John Kerry’s push to revive Middle East peace talks has taken a blow, with Israel announcing more settlement building.
It came ahead of Kerry’s arrival in the region for more key discussions.
Israel said it had approved the construction of 69 housing units in East Jerusalem along with building permits for 22 homes in two Palestinian-populated districts.
Peace activists such as Hagit Ofran from the NGO “Peace Now” have strongly criticised the move.
“If Netanyahu was really a peace-seeking prime minister he would have made sure that no construction in settlements would take place, because any construction in settlements is destroying the chances for peace. This is the welcome that the government of Israel is making for Kerry.”
Kerry is to meet Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days.
Israel claims the latest houses are part of projects already underway. But the Palestinians want a freeze on any settlement construction.