JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved a plan to build 277 apartments in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, including 100 for families evacuated from the Gaza Strip.
Barak approved the marketing of the apartments last week, the Defense Ministry announced Monday. Building permits for the apartments had been awarded previously, but marketing of the apartments had been delayed due to diplomatic concerns, Haaretz reported.
Construction of the units in Ariel, which is home to about 20,000 Jewish settlers, is expected to take three years.
More than one-third of the apartments will go to Jewish families removed from their homes in the Netzarim settlement in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005.
The announcement comes a week after Israel’s interior minister gave final approval to a project to build 1,600 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, and two weeks after 930 housing units in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa were given final approval by the Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee.
President Obama is among the world leaders who has denounced the building in eastern Jerusalem.
Israeli protesters for a month have been calling for more available and affordable housing.