Jerusalem: Israel has given the green light for the building of 112 new homes in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank despite a partial moratorium on such construction, a minister said on Monday.
The houses will be built in the Beitar Ilit settlement near Bethlehem, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan told public radio.
Israel`s continued expansion of settlements is one of the biggest obstacles to the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, now suspended for more than a year.
The new project came to light the day after the Palestinians agreed to indirect peace talks with Israel but warned that the US-mediated negotiations could collapse if Israel continued expanding settlements.
The Palestinians insist they will only return to direct negotiations if Israel agrees to a complete freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem.
Israel announced a 10-month moratorium on new building permits for settler homes in the occupied West Bank in late November but it excludes east Jerusalem, public buildings and works already under way.
The international community considers all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.