JERUSALEM, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The Israeli government has approved plans to build 1,200 housing units in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, the Israeli news website Walla said.
The report published Sunday, comes just days before Israel and the Palestinians are expected to resume peace talks.
"The government of Israel is acting to lower the cost of living in all parts of Israel. No country in the world would agree to accept directives from other countries where it can or cannot build. We will continue to market housing in all the country, the Negev, the Galilee, and in the center, in order to respond to the population's needs. It is the right thing to do, economically speaking and from a Zionist point of view, " Walla quoted Minister of Housing Uri Ariel saying.
He denied the move was in response to the pending release of 104 Palestinian prisoners by the government.
A tender will be published Sunday by the Housing Ministry and Israel Lands Authority to build 800 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev, the report said.
The neighborhoods were built on land annexed by Israel following the 1967 war and are viewed by the international community as settlements on occupied land. Another 400 housing units will be built in the West Bank town of Ariel, and the settlements of Beitar Elite and Efrat, as well as in Ma'aleh Adumim located east of Jerusalem, the website said.