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Israel approves new settlements in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM-WORLD HERITAGEIsrael has approved the building of 900 housing units in a Jewish settlement neighborhood in Jerusalem, a watchdog group said on Thursday.

The new homes will be built in Ramat Shlomo, an ultra-orthodox settlement, after the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved it late on Wednesday, Lior Amihai from Peace Now told Xinhua news agency.

“The plan has already been approved, and now they issued permits to begin the construction,” Amihai said.

In December 2012, Israel gave a go-ahead to 1,500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo following the UN recognition of the Palestinian observer state status. However, the committee said the works may begin only after a new access road will be constructed.

On Wednesday, the committee decided to “expedite issuance of building permits without waiting for completion of roadwork”, Betty Herschman, spokeswoman with the Israeli human rights organisation Ir Amim, said in a statement.

In his campaign to March 17 elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to step up the construction in the Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War.