10 May 2013

More houses approved on West Bank

6:26 am on 10 May 2013

The Israeli government has has approved the construction of almost 300 new houses for Jewish settlers in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

All settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

The Civil Administration said the new houses were intended as compensation after the government evicted 30 settler families from Ulpana last June.

The BBC reports the unauthorised outpost on the outskirts of Beit El was declared illegal under Israeli law by the High Court because it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Beit El is an isolated settlement close to the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

Details of the plans for Beit El emerged after reports on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu appeared to have responded to US pressure by issuing an unofficial order to stop new plans for settlement construction.

About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements in the West Bank. Israel has occupied the territory since 1967 and East Jerusalem.