Israel pressing ahead with new West Bank settlement houses despite US efforts to restart talks

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Israel's military says plans to build nearly 300 homes in a West Bank settlement are moving forward.

The project could complicate efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart Mideast peace talks. Palestinians oppose all Israeli settlement construction.

Earlier this week, activist groups claimed that Israel had quietly halted approval of new settlement construction in recent months in an apparent bid to boost Kerry's diplomacy.

Maj. Guy Inbar, a military spokesman, said Thursday that 296 homes in the Beit El settlement have been given preliminary approval. He says the plan requires further stages. Activists said the start of construction could be up to a year away.

Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh says the decision raises questions about Israel's commitment to peace.