JERUSALEM, Dec. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz gave his written approval to the building of hundreds of new houses in a number of West Bank settlements, local newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.
Defense officials confirmed that Mofaz had okayed building programs in several West Bank settlements late last week, said the report.
According to the officials, Mofaz had given the green light to the building of 200 new homes in Ma'aleh Adumim, the largest West Bank settlement, which is close to Jerusalem.
The expansion is part of the "natural growth" allowed inside the settlements, Israeli officials were quoted as saying.
Continued construction of new housing units in the West Bank settlements violates the internationally-sponsored roadmap peace plan, which says the Israeli government shall freeze the settlement expansion in order to move toward the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the new construction "undermines the vision of a two-state solution."
"This is a clear-cut violation of the roadmap ... and I really hope that (US) President Bush will personally take note of that," he said.
Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War. It completed troops and settlements withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank in September under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's so-called disengagement plan. Enditem