Israel has advanced the process of building 942 more settler homes in east Jerusalem under a new fast-track plan to tighten its grip on the territory, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state.
A government planning committee moved the project to the advanced stage of asking contractors to submit bids to build them, the Interior Ministry said yesterday.
Once a bid is awarded, construction can begin on the project in the Gilo area, though it can take months, if not longer, to reach that point.
An additional 300 units can be built after further planning, said attorney Daniel Seidemann, an expert on Jerusalem construction who sees the building as an obstacle to peacemaking. About 40,000 Israelis live in Gilo.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the new Israeli announcement was a "red line" that would block the chance for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.