x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Israel advances plan to build illegal West Bank settlement

An Israeli official says the government has given final approval for construction of 90 new homes in a West Bank settlement, a move that could cause tensions with the US ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the region.

JERUSALEM // An Israeli official says the government has given final approval for construction of 90 new homes in a West Bank settlement, a move that could cause tensions with the US ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the region.

The official says the homes were first announced last year in an agreement with Jewish settlers in exchange for evacuating an unauthorised West Bank outpost. The government published its final approval on Sunday.

The official spoke on Monday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.

Anti-settlement activist Hagit Ofran says construction could begin within weeks. That means the work could coincide with Obama's visit.

Obama has criticised settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories claimed by the Palestinians.