MIDDLE EAST

Israel to approve 4,500 new settlement units in W. Bank

The Israeli government is expected to approve construction of 4,500 new Jewish-only settlement units in the occupied West Bank next week, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) reported Friday.

According to the IBA, the expected approvals may be postponed until after Knesset elections slated for April 9 if an ongoing dispute between the finance and defense ministries is not first resolved.

Roughly 650,000 Jewish settlers currently live on more than 100 settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.

The Palestinians, for their part, want both these territories -- along with the Gaza Strip -- for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

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