Israel's new West Bank settlement plan 'destroys' two-state solution, says PLO


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The Independent Online

Israel has given preliminary approval for the construction of more than 800 new homes in Jewish settlements on occupied West Bank land where Palestinians seek statehood.

The move could complicate Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which resumed last month after an almost three-year freeze.

Guy Inbar, spokesman for Israel's military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank, said that initial plans to build 800 new settler homes were approved on Wednesday, though actual construction would require a green light from the government.

"This is a lengthy process," said Mr Inbar, who did not immediately provide further details on the plans.

Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog, put the number of new homes at 1,096 and said they were earmarked for 11 settlements, some of them deep within the West Bank.

Israel insists it would annex major West Bank settlement blocs under any peace accord with the Palestinians. Most world powers regard all the settlements as illegal and Palestinians say the enclaves could deny them a viable and contiguous state.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestine Liberation Organisation member, accused Israel of "deliberately destroying the two-state solution and killing any sort of hope".