The news immediately drew Palestinian condemnation and came just days before a U.S. general was due in the region to monitor progress in troubled peacemaking.
Construction Ministry spokesman Eran Sidis said a project for 546 apartments in the Givat Zeev settlement has proceeded in fits and starts since 1999. With Olmert's approval, those apartments will be completed and the ministry will soon market more than 200 more, bringing the project to some 800 units in all, Sidis said.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the decision to build new housing in Givat Zeev raised doubts about Israel's commitment to peace talks.
"It seems to me the Israelis are determined to put a stick in the wheel of negotiations," he said. "It will undermine the U.S. effort to revive the negotiations.
He noted the decision came just days before a U.S. envoy, Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, arrives in the region for his first joint meeting with Israelis and Palestinians.
President Bush appointed Fraser in January to monitor implementation of the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan — which among other things calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity.
Last Mod: 09 Mart 2008, 18:19