Originally posted on National Post | News:

JERUSALEM — Israel on Wednesday pressed forward with the construction of thousands of new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, part of a series of new settlement plans that have drawn worldwide rebuke, including from its closest ally, the United States.

Separate planning committees on Wednesday gave approval to a new settlement in east Jerusalem, the first to be built in the contested area since 1997, and construction of 1,000 new homes in existing settlements across the West Bank.

The announcements drew harsh Palestinian condemnations and were likely to heighten the already rising tensions between Israel and its allies in the West. The Palestinians claim the West Bank and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as parts of a future state. The international community opposes all Israeli settlement in the two areas.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a gathering of foreign diplomats, refused to…

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