Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday his intent to push ahead with a plan to build 3,500 homes for those living in the E-1 area of Judea and Samaria, which would effectively connect Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem.

“I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E-1,” said Netanyahu, using an administrative term for the first phase of the planning process, according to Reuters. The move comes less than a week before Israel’s March 2 general elections.

“This had been delayed for six-and-a-half years,” said Netanyahu, referring to the freezing of the project following international criticism claiming that the new housing would cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and harm a prospective Palestinian state.

Pundits say Netanyahu seeks to gain support from right-wing supporters and settlers for the upcoming election.

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