Israel issued tenders to build 1,859 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem on Sunday, ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, an NGO said.
Settlement watchdog Peace Now told AFP that 1,031 plots were offered in the occupied West Bank and 828 in annexed east Jerusalem and that successful bidders would be able to start construction shortly.
The Israeli government announced Wednesday that it had given final approval for 1,500 new apartments in a particularly contentious Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and moved forward on plans for a controversial park and tourism center there, prompting Palestinian accusations that it is not taking the Washington-brokered peace talks seriously.
The construction approvals were an expected attempt to appease Israeli extremists outraged over the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. The men were released overnight under the agreement that began the talks this summer.
Washington generally condemns settlement construction as an obstacle to the peace process, but U.S. officials have yet to insist on a freeze on building in order to bring Israel to the table for the talks, which are entering the fourth of nine planned months.
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