New settler homes approved by Israel: watchdog

The construction of more than 13,000 new homes for Israeli settlers in the West Bank has been approved and will proceed when a partial moratorium expires this month, a watchdog group said on Monday.

The statement came after reports that Israel was planning to resume some construction in the West Bank when the moratorium expires on September 26, a move the Palestinians say would torpedo newly relaunched US-backed peace talks.

The anti-settlement Peace Now group said ground had already been broken on 2,066 units and that another 11,000 had received final government approval.

“This means that if the government decides on a de facto ‘tacit freeze’, and commits to not approve any new construction but without renewing the freeze order, the settlers can still build 13,000 housing units,” Peace Now said.

It added that another 25,000 units were in the pipeline but required further government approval.

An Israeli government official confirmed on condition of anonymity that construction on around 2,000 homes could proceed without any further approval.