Israeli officials said they would press on with plans this week to build 6,000 homes for settlers on land claimed by Palestinians, defying criticism from Western powers who fear the move will damage already faint hopes for a peace accord.
Stung by de facto recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in a U.N. General Assembly vote last month, Israel announced it would expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
An Israeli Interior Ministry planning committee on Monday gave preliminary approval for 1,500 new homes in the Ramat Shlomo settlement.
The panel will now start discussing plans for another 4,500 homes in two other settlements, Givat Hamatos and Gilo, in back-to-back sessions that could run into next week, ministry spokesman Efrat Orbach said on Tuesday.
Israel counts the three settlements as part of its Jerusalem municipality, though they are on West Bank land seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
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