Israel says it plans to build about 500 hundred new settler homes in the West Bank -- in apparent contradiction of the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.
Government officials confirmed the plans Monday. Last week, Israel approved the construction of some 1,000 new units in existing West Bank settlements.
The announcement followed a report in the New York Times saying the Bush administration has shifted its policy to accept new settlement growth within the boundaries of existing West Bank settlements.
Palestinian officials oppose any new building in the occupied territories and say such a move is in direct violation of the 'road map' peace plan.
The State Department said Monday the United States is continuing to seek a freeze on Israeli settlement activity, but refrained from criticizing plans for the new construction.
Information for this report is provided by AFP.