Israeli authorities have approved building permits for 82 new homes in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, a neighbourhood near Shuafat in occupied East Jerusalem, an Israeli NGO has said.
“On Monday, June 6, the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee approved two building permits for 82 housing units in Ramat Shlomo,” Ir Amim, a group that opposes settlement construction, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The settlement, which already houses more than 15,000 Israeli Jews, lies in close proximity to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Shuafat.
The 82 units in two buildings are part of a larger scheme for expansion announced in 2010 to build an additional 1,600 new settler homes in the neighbourhood.
In October 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the construction of 1,000 new homes as part of the plans.
The plans have previously raised tensions with the United States, which has repeatedly criticised the ventures to expand the settlement.
The 2010 announcement came as US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country, provoking fierce US opposition and souring relations with Washington for months.
Settlements are considered illegal under international law and are a major sticking point for peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
Last week in Paris, representatives from 28 countries, the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations met to discuss ways of restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
The participants agreed that “the status quo is unsustainable” and voiced “alarm” at the situation on the ground, citing continuing acts of violence and settlement building.
“This is Israel’s response to the Paris peace summit,” Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat said in a statement regarding the expansion plans.
He said the approvals serve “as yet another reminder to the international community to hold Israel liable for the crimes it continues to commit against the land and people of Palestine”.
Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel has built more than a dozen Jewish-only neighbourhoods housing approximately 200,000 Israelis in East Jerusalem which it annexed following the war.
It claims East Jerusalem as part of its “undivided” capital Jerusalem. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
In a wave of violence since October, the Israeli army has killed at least 206 Palestinians, including protesters, bystanders and alleged attackers, while 33 Israelis have been killed in stabbing and shooting incidents.