Uri Ariel, the housing minister for the State of Israel, was quoted as saying on Thursday that Israel must build 10,000 homes for illegal settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in order to alleviate “the housing crisis.” Ariel wrote on his facebook page that the lack of state marketing for settlements over the past year had raised the cost of houses nationwide, and he said that 10,000 units could be launched immediately in the settlements of Beit Arye, Ofarim, and Elkana.

Under international law, it is illegal for Israel – the occupying power – to annex the land of the West Bank and to build settlements on it. Nevertheless, roughly half a million Israelis have moved into 121 illegal settlements since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority has stated that it will only participate in peace talks if Israel freezes all settlement activity and accepts the 1967 border as the basis for negotiations.