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Israel pushes forward with settlement plans

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November 25, 2013 05:07 AM EST | AP


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's defense ministry says plans to build 800 new housing units in the West Bank are moving forward.

The ministry said on Monday it had approved a planning stage for the housing earlier this month. The approval is an initial step in a protracted bureaucratic process and construction is not expected to begin for months.

The approval comes as Israel and the Palestinians are conducting quiet, behind-the-scenes peace talks. The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as part of a future state and oppose Israeli settlement building.

The housing plans were originally announced last month, following Israel's release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. That move was part of a deal that brought the two sides back to negotiations.