Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he is moving forward with a plan to build some 3,500 homes in the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim in the E-1 area of the West Bank, a project frozen after international criticism.
"I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E-1," Netanyahu said, using an administrative term for the first phase of a planning process.
Palestinian and foreign opponents of the plan had cautioned that building houses in the area could bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and further dim their hopes for a contiguous state.
"This had been delayed for six or seven years," Netanyahu said in a speech six days before the third national election in less than a year, in which the right-wing leader is seeking to shore up backing from settlers and their supporters.
The E-1 plan would expand the large settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, effectively connecting it to Jerusalem, about a 15-minute drive away.
Last week, Netanyahu announced he was reviving a project to build 3,000 new settler homes at Givat HaMatos in the West Bank, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Palestinians and much of the world view Israel's settlements in the West Bank, captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, as illegal under international law.
The United States and Israel dispute this.
First published: 15:32 , 02.25.20