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Jerusalem official: Israel moving forward with construction of new east Jerusalem settlement

A Palestinian worker is seen on a construction site in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Sholmo, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. A European diplomat says Germany and three other European members of the U.N. Security Council are preparing a statement condemning Israel's latest settlement plans in the West Bank.(AP Photo/Dan Balilty)The Associated Press

A Jerusalem official says Israel is moving ahead with construction of a new east Jerusalem settlement, despite an international outcry over continued building.

City Councilman Pepe Alalu says a municipal committee on Wednesday approved building 2,612 housing units in Givat Hamatos, the first new east Jerusalem settlement to be built since 1997. Construction could begin in a year.

Israel has announced several new building projects since the U.N. voted for a Palestinian state last month. Critics consider Givat Hamatos particularly problematic because, along with another contentious building plan, it would hinder access to east Jerusalem from the West Bank. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The U.S. has harshly criticized the construction plans. The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss it Wednesday.