Israel plans to build 3,000 new homes for its settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in defiance of a UN vote implicitly recognising Palestinian statehood there, Israeli media reported yesterday.
The Ynet news site said the move had been approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner council of nine senior cabinet members on Thursday, as the United Nations General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians to "non-member observer state" from "entity" – a resolution Israel and Washington had opposed.
The Haaretz news site carried a similar report, describing the new homes as a part of a "construction wave" planned by Israel, which deems all of Jerusalem its undivisible capital and wants to keep swathes of West Bank settlements under any eventual peace treaty with the Palestinians.
Israeli officials had no immediate comment. Mr Netanyahu's inner council often meets in secret to decide on measures that are later tabled for formal cabinet approval.
Most world powers consider the settlements illegal for taking in land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want their state to include the Gaza Strip, which Israel quit in 2005 and is now ruled by Hamas Islamists.
The 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after President Mahmoud Abbas urged the world body to issue its long overdue "birth certificate."