Palestinians threaten to take West Bank settlement grievances to UN

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - The Palestinians have threatened to go to the United Nations Security Council over Israel's announcement on Sunday of tenders to build more than 1,800 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

"The PLO is considering a mechanism to go the Security Council and the UN against these new Israeli decisions, especially as there are international resolutions that consider settlements illegal," Palestine Liberation Organisation senior member Wassel Abu Youssef told AFP.

Israel issued tenders to build 1,859 settler homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem on Sunday, ahead of a visit by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, a non-governmental organisation said.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now said 1,031 plots were offered by Israel's Housing and Construction Ministry in the West Bank and 828 in east Jerusalem and that successful bidders would be able to start construction shortly.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar were reported to have agreed to build 1,500 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

Peace Now said that of the east Jerusalem sites offered for sale on Sunday, 700 were at Ramat Shlomo.

The north-east Jerusalem settlement of mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews sparked the ire of the US administration in March 2010 when plans to build there were first announced during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the international community.