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OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel's prime minister on Monday directed authorities to approve construction of 800 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank days before President Donald Trump's pro-Israel administration leaves office.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed that plans be advanced for the construction of about 800 units in Judea and Samaria," a statement from the premier's office said, using biblical terms for the West Bank.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will be sworn in next week, has indicated that his administration will restore US policy opposing settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

Trump's administration gave unprecedented US support to settler groups, highlighted by a declaration from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019 that Washington no longer viewed settlements as being in violation of international law.

Pompeo in November also became the first top US diplomat to visit a settlement in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. Netanyahu is facing re-election on March 23, Israel's fourth vote in just under two years.