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Wednesday Nov. 16, 2011 10:32 AM (EST+7)
Israel to invite bids for 814 settler homes

Read more: settlements, settlers, Jerusalem, colonies, colonization, UNESCO, United Nations, statehood, statehood bid

Nov 15 (Reuters) - Israel said on Tuesday it will invite bids soon for constructing 814 homes in occupied land it considers part of Jerusalem, pursuing a decision to speed up building in settlements after Palestinians won full membership in the U.N. cultural agency.

The tenders were expected to be issued in several weeks, and it could take up to two years for the housing units to be built in Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev, said Ariel Rosenberg, spokesman for Israel's Housing Ministry.

Drawing international condemnation, Israel announced on Nov. 1 plans to build 1,650 housing units in areas of the occupied West Bank that it said it intends to keep in any peace deal with the Palestinians, who are seeking a state in that region and in the Gaza Strip.

The settlements of Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev are in one of the areas Israel says will remain in its hands, and which it annexed to Jerusalem after capturing the eastern part of the city and the West Bank in a 1967 war.

The announcement two weeks ago was a sign of Israeli displeasure over UNESCO's decision to award full membership to the Palestinians, who are unilaterally seeking U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood over Israeli and U.S. opposition.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in September 2010 in a dispute over settlement building. Most world powers deem the settlements illegal.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Jeffrey Heller)






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