Israel approves 700 Palestinian homes, 6,000 settler homes

A demonstrator protests against the Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher, which sits on either side of the Israeli barrier in East Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on July 26, 2019.
A demonstrator protests against the Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher, which sits on either side of the Israeli barrier in East Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on July 26, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli ministers have given rare approval to 700 Palestinian homes in the part of the occupied West Bank under the country's full control while also approving 6,000 homes for settlers, an Israeli official said Wednesday (July 31).

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the approval by Israel's security cabinet on Tuesday ahead of an expected visit by US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

It was not immediately clear if all of the homes will be new construction or if some already exist and are receiving retroactive approval.

Earlier in July, Israel had begun demolishing a number of Palestinian homes it considers illegal south of Jerusalem, in a move which had drawn international concern.

The Palestinians had immediately slammed the demolitions in the Sur Baher area which straddles the West Bank and Jerusalem, but Israeli had defended the move as essential to its security.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

The Jewish state began construction of the barrier during the bloody second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and says it is necessary to protect against attacks.

Palestinians see it as an "apartheid wall".