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Israel's interior minister has given final approval for a plan to build 1,600 settler homes in East Jerusalem, a project whose announcement last year during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden caused a diplomatic rift with Washington. The official announcement Thursday of the go-ahead from Interior Minister Eli Yishai could weigh on U.S.-led efforts to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking United Nations endorsement of statehood in the absence of peace talks they suspended over Israeli settlement construction.
East Jerusalem refers to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. It includes Jerusalem's Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, such as the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.