Israel approves 800 settlements
A bulldozer clears construction site for Jewish settlement near Jerusalem (Reuters)

Israeli authorities have approved the construction of 800 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, according to Israel's Defence Ministry, again casting doubt on Israel's commitment to US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinian National Authority.

The move cames less than two weeks after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu abandoned plans for 24,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Peace Now, a group that tracks Israel's settlement activity within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, was quick to criticise the announcement.

"This is yet another move that threatens to derail the peace process," spokesman Lior Amihai said.

The Palestinian National Authority has not commented.

The homes, approved by the Civil Administration, will be built in the settlements of Kfar Adumim, Shiloh and Givat Ze'ev, all north of Jerusalem.

The US considers the settlements illegitimate and secretary of state John Kerry called for Israel to restrict settlement building "as much as possible" to help the peace negotiations.

The US-brokered talks have yielded little progress since they were resumed after a three-year break in July.

If no deal is reached, the Palestinians have pledged to pursue international legal channels to challenge the settler homes programme.