Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he will give a green light to building thousands of new Jewish settlements in a contested part of the West Bank that have been delayed for more than a quarter-century.
Netanyahu, who's locked in another political battle ahead of national elections Monday, said he will approve construction of 3,500 new Jewish homes at the Ma'ale Adumim settlement in what's known as the "E1" section of the West Bank near Jerusalem.
"We are building up Jerusalem and the outskirts of [the city]," the prime minister said at a conference Tuesday. "I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan."
The Ma'ale Adumim project was first announced years ago but, after backlash from the international community, was frozen by the United States and the European Union in 1994 -- over fears it would bisect the West Bank and make a future Palestinian state impossible.
Netanyahu first advocated going ahead with the expansion in 2011 when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization admitted Palestine as a full member, despite its lack of a territorial state. Tuesday marked his first official act in that direction.
Experts say the move could shore up Netanyahu's support heading into Monday's elections -- the third in less than a year. Two previous elections last May and September failed to produce a coalition government.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Netanyahu's step toward building more settlements on Tuesday.
''This decision is the result of the partial and dangerous U.S. policy in favor of occupation, which has led to a situation violating international law and which transgresses red lines," spokesman Abu Rudeina said.
''We will warn the Israeli government not to continue this escalation policy which will not bring security and stability to anyone but will rather increase tension and violence in the region."
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion announced a new master plan last week and six-month moratorium on building any new settlements in the Isawiyah neighborhood. Earlier this month, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a list of 112 companies with ties to disputed West Bank settlements.