Israel pushes forward with settlement plans

Nov 25, 2013, 5:06 AM EST
Members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine chant slogans against peace negotiations with Israeli, while participating in a demonstration in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.
(AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's defense ministry says plans to build 800 new housing units in the West Bank are moving forward.

The ministry said on Monday it had approved a planning stage for the housing earlier this month. The approval is an initial step in a protracted bureaucratic process and construction is not expected to begin for months.

The approval comes as Israel and the Palestinians are conducting quiet, behind-the-scenes peace talks. The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as part of a future state and oppose Israeli settlement building.

The housing plans were originally announced last month, following Israel's release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. That move was part of a deal that brought the two sides back to negotiations.