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The Higher Planning Committee of the Israeli Civil Administration approved the construction of 4,427 new settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank, according to what the non-governmental organization Peace Now announced on Thursday.

The Israeli organization said that “the Civil Administration gave final approval for the construction of 2,791 units, while it initially approved the construction of 1,636 units” in the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

About 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, in settlements considered illegal under international law.

“This is bad news, deepens the occupation and makes it difficult to achieve future peace,” said Hagit Ofran, of the organization.

The United States confirmed its “strong” opposition to the new approvals.

Last week, the deputy spokeswoman for the US State Department referred to Thursday’s decision, and stressed that “Israel’s program to expand settlements seriously harms the two-state solution.”

Settlement projects are spread in large areas of the West Bank, especially in Area C, which represents 60 percent of the West Bank and is subject to Israeli civil and military control.

Israel, through its successive governments, has followed the policy of Israeli settlement and expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since its occupation of these lands.

The Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is a staunch supporter of settlement expansion and has previously served as head of the settlements council in the West Bank.

According to Ofran, “It is disappointing that this government is the same that had promised to change policies similar to the government of (Benjamin) Netanyahu,” which Bennett ousted about a year ago.

For her part, Interior Minister from the far-right Yamina party, Ayelet Shaked, considered Thursday a “celebratory day for the settlement movement.”