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Israel to Invite Bids for 800 Settler Homes

A construction worker works at a site of a new housing unit in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, Nov. 2, 2011.

The Israeli government said Tuesday it plans to invite bids for the construction of more than 800 new homes in East Jerusalem.

Housing Ministry spokesman Ariel Rosenberg said the tenders to build the new homes in Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev settlements are expected to be issued in the next several weeks.

The decision to speed up the construction in settlements came after the Palestinians won full membership last month in the U.N. cultural heritage agency, UNESCO, as part of their unilateral drive for statehood.

Israel also said it would continue to withhold some $100 million in tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority.

In an unrelated development Tuesday, Israeli authorities arrested six Palestinians clutching national flags as they tried to enter Jerusalem on an Israeli bus in a bid to protest what they call Israel's discriminatory policies in the West Bank, mainly travel restrictions.

Palestinians in the West Bank ordinarily need a special permit to enter Jerusalem, unlike Israeli settlers living in the territory who can reach the Holy City on Israeli buses traveling on Israeli-controlled roads.

Israeli officials say travel restrictions on Palestinians are necessary to prevent militants from entering Israel or West Bank settlements to stage attacks.

Some information for this report privided by AP, AFP and Reuters.