OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: 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.