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Jerusalem:

 
The Israeli planning authority has advanced the building of 1,936 new settlement homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to a watchdog.

On Monday, a total of 786 housing units received the final approval needed before the building works could start, while 1,150 housing units received phase-one approval of the planning process, Xinhua news agency reported citing Peace Now, an Israeli group that follows the expansion of the settlements, as saying.

The approvals come at a sensitive time when the International Criminal Court (ICC) is discussing whether it has jurisdiction ahead of opening a formal investigation into Israeli violation of international law in the Israeli settlements.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the move, saying the ICC has no jurisdiction in the case.

The settlements are located in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which were seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war along with the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians and the majority of the international community condemn the settlements as an obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians and a violation of international law.

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