Maan news agency reports that The Planning and Building Committee for Jerusalem have announced plans for 1,500 new Jewish only housing units in illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.
The announcement comes hours before US President Barrack Obama’s talk on the region later today and days before Israeli PM’s speech before US congress next Tuesday. The housing units are due to be built in the illegal settlements of Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev. The settlements are part of land occupied after the 1967 war and as such are internationally recognised as Palestinian Territory. Much of the settlements are on privately owned Palestinian land.

The settlements have been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration in its search for a resolution to the conflict. Obama offered extensive benefits to Netanyahu in return for a halt to settlement construction, including vetoing any Palestinian motions in the UN. However Netanyahu rejected the propsals and resumed settlement activity last September.

Palestinian leaders say a halt to settlement construction is an absolute prerequisite to any potential peace talks. Settlement activity, they claim, makes a future Palestinian state unviable and must be stopped.