JERUSALEM -Israel moved forward on Wednesday with plans to build some 3,000 homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, projects that have drawn strong criticism from its U.S. ally.
An Israeli defence official said a planning forum of Israel's liaison office with the Palestinians gave preliminary approval for plans to build 1,344 housing units and its final go-ahead for projects to construct 1,800 homes.
The United States had already voiced strong opposition to the plans to advance the settlement units in the West Bank, saying such moves would damage prospects of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ahead of the planning committee's meeting, Israel on Sunday published tenders for about 1,300 new settlement homes in the West Bank, where some 440,000 settlers live among 3 million Palestinians.
Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war and cites biblical, historical and political links to the area in maintaining that Jews have a right to live there. Palestinians seek a future state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital.