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Israel's settlement watchdog says government has issued building tenders for West Bank

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JERUSALEM — Israel's settlement watchdog group says the government has issued hundreds of tenders for housing units in the West Bank, an area the Palestinians demand for their future state.

Peace Now said on Friday that 450 tenders have been issued. The move comes ahead of Israel's national elections in March 17.

PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the memorial ceremony of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on the 1st anniversary of his death at his grave site, in Havat Shikmim southern Israel, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the memorial ceremony of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on the 1st anniversary of his death at his grave site, in Havat Shikmim southern Israel, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now accused the Israeli government of "trying to create facts on the ground ahead of the election."

The elections are widely seen as a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hawkish government.

U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed last year in part over Jewish settlements. Israel has said the issue should be resolved along with security arrangements and other core disputes through negotiations.

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