World Bulletin / News Desk
According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli-civil administration’s supreme committee approved 250 new homes in the Jewish-only Elkana settlement in the occupied West Bank.
An additional 50 housing units were approved in the West Bank settlements of Beit Aryeh and Givat Ze’ev, the paper reported.
The committee also "retroactively" approved 178 existing housing units in the Ofarim settlement north of Ramallah, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.
Roughly 500,000 Israelis now live on more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built since the Jewish state first occupied the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.
The Palestinians want these areas -- along with the Gaza Strip -- for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
- Al-Aqsa intrusions
In a related development Wednesday, dozens of Jewish settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to a Palestinian official.
"More than 70 extremist Jewish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Al-Mugharbeh gate under police protection," Mosque Director Omar al-Kiswani told Anadolu Agency.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Some extremist Jewish groups have gone so far as to call for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that a new Jewish temple might be built in its place.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem -- in which Al-Aqsa is located -- during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.