*(Original article from, Al Jazeera.com): Israeli authorities have given the final approval to the building of 153 settler homes in the occupied East Jerusalem and plan to provide permits for thousands more in the upcoming months, Jerusalem's deputy mayor has said. The Israeli government has boosted plans for settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, which are illegal under international law, since US President Donald Trump, whose administration does not oppose the settlement activity, took office last week. Thursday's approvals were for the settlement neighbourhood of Gilo. Jerusalem's Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman told the AFP news agency that the approvals by a city planning committee were among those held up due to pressure from former US President Barack Obama's administration.
Turgeman also spoke of plans for about 11,000 homes in process for East Jerusalem. "I'm going to deliver permits for thousands of homes in Jerusalem in the coming months," Turgeman said. Israel has announced a major settlement expansion in the days following Trump's January 20 inauguration. On Sunday, the city planning committee approved building permits for 566 settler homesin East Jerusalem. Two days later, the defence ministry announced plans for 2,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank.
The United Nations on Wednesday joined the European Union in condemning Israel's accelerated settlement expansion initiatives. Trump has pledged strong support for Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has moved quickly to take advantage. The settlement expansion plans, which are major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state, have deeply concerned those seeking to salvage a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama's administration, like much of the world, has warned that settlement expansion was gradually eating away at prospects for a two-state solution.
*(Original Online Article: Al Jazeera.com)*