02:06 - Source: CNN
Cracks in the foundation for Mideast peace?
Jerusalem CNN  — 

The Israeli government has approved the construction of hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements and neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to CNN.

Of those settlements, 560 will be built in Ma’ale Adumim, which is already one of the largest settlements in the West Bank.

Another 240 will be built in Jerusalem in neighborhoods that Israel says are Jewish but Palestinians claim as the future capital of a Palestinian state in the eastern part of the city.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the European Union and others in the international community consider settlements illegal and say that they are counterproductive to achieving a two-state solution, claims Israel rejects.

A handful of leaders and organizations has criticized the most recent decision to build more settlements in Ma’ale Adumim.

“This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank,” Ban said.

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A statement from the European Union criticized the announcement of new housing.

“Israel’s decision on Sunday to advance several hundred new settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank threatens the viability of the two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians. Despite repeated calls by the international community Israel is continuing its settlement policy, which is illegal under international law. The EU urges Israel to stop this policy and to reverse its recent decision,” the statement said.

The Israeli government also approved 600 new housing units in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian neighborhood which lies on the border of East Jerusalem and Jerusalem.

Those units will be built inside Jerusalem and are slated to go to Palestinian families.

Israel’s decision on the settlements comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to allow the expansion of another West Bank settlement in the wake of the killing of a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl.

She was stabbed in her sleep by a Palestinian teenager who entered her house.

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report