Israel Fast-Tracks New Settlements in East Jerusalem

Nearly 1,000 more homes slated


ISRAEL has advanced the process of building 942 more settler homes in East Jerusalem under a new fast-track plan to tighten its grip on the territory, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state.

The plan's announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday launched his campaign for the January 22 general election with a pledge that halting Tehran's nuclear program would be his first priority as premier.

"Who do (Israeli voters) think is the most suitable candidate to deal with the Iranian threat? With the missile threat? With the threat of terror?" he asked supporters in Jerusalem.

In his speech, Mr Netanyahu expanded at length for his domestic audience on what he termed his government's economic achievements and laid out his goals. He only briefly addressed the peace process.