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Israel okays homes for Palestinians, settlers before Kushner visit

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

This picture taken from the West Bank on 22 July 2019 shows Israeli security forces tearing down one of the Palestinian buildings still under construction which have been issued notices to be demolished in the Wadi al-Hummus area adjacent to the Palestinian village of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem. Picture: AFP

JERUSALEM - 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.

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.

The approvals are for the part of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under Israeli security and civilian control and where its settlements are located.

Area C accounts for more than 60% of the West Bank, the Palestinian territory that would form part of a future Palestinian state under the so-called two-state solution.

Israel rarely grants approvals for Palestinian construction in that area.

The plan for Palestinians, though relatively small and far outweighed by the new settlement homes, could allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to argue he is making efforts in favour of Kushner's long-awaited peace plan.

Details on Kushner's visit, expected this week, were not yet made available.

He has said his plan will not mention a two-state solution because "it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians."

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