JERUSALEM (AA) - The Israeli authorities on Thursday approved the construction of hundreds of new Jewish-only housing units in occupied East Jerusalem, according to Israeli media reports.
"The [Israeli] Jerusalem Municipality's planning and construction committee has approved the construction of 3,000 new housing units at the Gilo [settlement] in southern Jerusalem," Israeli radio reported.
"The planned settlement units will be built on an area of approximately 280 dunams [around 252 square km], most of which is owned by Palestinians," it added.
"This is a historic day for the city of Jerusalem," Meir Turjeman, chairman of the municipal planning committee, was quoted as saying by the broadcaster.
"We approved the construction of thousands of new housing units in the Gilo settlement with a view to encouraging more young [Jewish Israeli] couples to come to Jerusalem," Turjeman said.
"We are committed to building wherever possible in order to increase Jerusalem's Jewish majority," he added.
Last year, Israel's Channel 10 reported on plans to build 300,000 new Jerusalem housing units as part of a so-called "Greater Jerusalem" bill aimed at annexing settlements built in the occupied West Bank.
According to Channel 10, most of the units would be constructed in areas located beyond the Green Line, in reference to territories that Israel occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Roughly 600,000 Israeli settlers currently live on more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967.
The Palestinians want these areas, along with the Gaza Strip, for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity on the land as illegal.