Israel to approve 3,000 West Bank settlements
The plan for some 3,000 new settler units in the West Bank has already drawn calls for restraint from the US, which on Friday voiced concern over the expected approvals.
Hagit Ofran from the anti-settlement group Peace Now said a committee is set to meet Wednesday to approve 2,800 units deep in the West Bank, complicating any efforts to create a Palestinian state. More than half of those are receiving final approval, meaning construction could begin in the coming year.
On Friday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US was concerned about the new Jewish settlements, which are deemed illegal by much of the international community.
Price called on Israel and the Palestinians to "refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tension and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution" to the conflict.
The West Bank, which was occupied by Israel since 1967, is home to almost three million Palestinians.
The settlements, which house some 700,000 Jewish settlers, are one of the main obstacles to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Ofran said Israel is also set to approve 1,600 units for Palestinians in the areas of the West Bank that it controls.
But critics say the move comes at the initiative of villagers and not the Israeli government and that the figure is a fraction of the building permits requested by Palestinians over the years.