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Israel Approves More Construction in West Bank, East Jerusalem


Israel has approved construction of hundreds of new homes in East Jerusalem, and has invited bids for building projects in the West Bank.

The Israeli government Thursday said it will build 130 living units in the Har Homa neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem. That neighborhood was built on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel incorporated the areas into Jerusalem's boundaries in a move not recognized internationally.

Israeli officials also called for bids from construction companies to build more than 300 apartments in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit.

Palestinian officials condemn new settlements, saying they undermine U.S.-backed peace talks.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed repeatedly that settlement construction or expansion in the West Bank is contrary to international law and Israel's commitments under the "road map" peace process.

Mr. Ban has urged Israel to freeze all settlement activity and to dismantle outposts erected since March of 2001.

In other news, a small private plane crashed near the northern Israeli port city of Haifa, killing three people and injuring at least one other. Authorities say the plane took off from Cyprus with two passengers and two crew members. They say it crashed into an empty building next to an Israeli air force technical school.

It is not clear what caused the incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.