The Israeli government has published tenders to build 430 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, according to an NGO that monitors settlement activity.
Terrestrial Jerusalem reported that the tenders were published on Friday for new homes in four existing settlements across the West Bank, including 112 in Adam, 156 in Elkana, 78 in Alfei Menashe and 84 in Kiryat Arba.
Building settlements in the West Bank is considered illegal under international law and opposed by the United States and international community as an obstacle to an eventual peace deal with the Palestinians.
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official Wassel Abu Yusef told the AFP news agency that "what the Israelis announced is part of a wider war... against the Palestinian people. This is a war crime which should push the settlements issue to the International Criminal Court".
Daniel Seidemann, head of Terrestrial Jerusalem, whose group particularly monitors settlement in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, told the AFP that he believed building plans were likely to be announced there soon.
"It's the opening of the settlement floodgates," he said. "I don't think it's over."
His group also linked the publication of tenders with Israel's March 17 election, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party will be competing with others for the settler vote.
"Today's W Bank tenders could not be published without Netanyahu's explicit knowledge and consent. Expect more and worse before elections," the group tweeted on Friday morning.
The Palestinians want both the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be part of a future state.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies